Guilford Upsets Top-Ranked Virginia Wesleyan to Open ODAC Softball Tourney

Guilford gathers after defeating top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan in Friday's ODAC Tournament opener. (Gary Blankenship photo)
Guilford gathers after defeating top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan in Friday's ODAC Tournament opener. (Gary Blankenship photo)

SALEM, Virginia -- Winning pitcher Courtney Lackey's eighth-inning RBI single scored the go-ahead run in Guilford College's 5-1 upset of top-ranked Virginia Wesleyan University in Friday's opening round of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Softball Tournament Championship. Lackey shut down the defending NCAA Division III champions in the bottom of the eighth to send Guilford into a winners'-bracket contest with Emory & Henry College Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the Moyer Sports Complex.

Guilford's Makayla Crawford followed Lackey's go-ahead hit with a three-run home run, which provided the final margin and marked the junior's school-record 12th homer of the season.

The victory marked the Quakers' (18-22) first over a top-ranked softball opponent. Virginia Wesleyan (39-2) plays Roanoke College Friday afternoon in an elimination contest.

Guilford, the championship's eighth-ranked and lowest-seeded team, received a pitching gem from Lackey (8-9), a senior who outdueled reigning National Fastpitch Coaches' Association Player of the Year Hanna Hull (26-2), who fanned eight and walked none. Lackey pitched all eight frames, allowed four hits, and fanned three Marlins. She also went 3-4 with a run and one RBI to lead all batters. 

The Quakers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Savannah Yale led off with a double and scored on Katie McNeill's single to right.

Virginia Wesleyan, the tourney's top seed, tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch-hitter Amanda Archer singled in pinch-runner Marla Weddle for the tally. Archer made the third out trying to reach second base on the play.

In the top of the eighth inning, McNeill was placed on second base per the international softball tiebreaker rule. Darby Kozan pinch ran for McNeill and moved to third on Natalie Conrad's sacrifice bunt. Lackey then put the Quakers back in front with an RBI single to centerfield. Kayli Blankenship then reached on a bunt single and was followed by Crawford, who broke open the game with a blast to left-center that made the score 5-1.

In the bottom of the frame, the Marlins had a runner placed on second but Lackey forced two pop flies and a strikeout to secure the upset win. 

The Quakers had eight hits to the Marlins' four.

The win sets up a meeting with fifth-seeded Emory & Henry in the winners' bracket of the double-elimination championship. Emory & Henry defeated fourth-seeded Roanoke, 6-5.