In mid-March, Roanoke College softball coach Mike Mitchell predicted the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) schedule would be filled with split doubleheaders, his Maroons having just split one on a cloudy Sunday with Randolph-Macon.
Three weeks later, thanks to weather delays, the Yellow Jackets embarked on a marathon of back-to-back-to-back twinbills. Six games in just over 48 hours. On two occasions, the Jackets settled for splits. The weekend’s gift? A hard-fought sweep of Guilford to begin the stretch, giving Randolph-Macon a 4-2 record this past weekend.
Randolph-Macon had to battle 10 innings to quell the Quakers, who entered the game at 19-3, by a 4-3 count in Friday’s first game. Freshman Kelsey McLaughlin went the distance, scattering 10 hits for the win. A Patrick Henry duo generated the winning run, as Katie Woody’s single sent Sam Moore home for the win.
Jenna Best went the distance and homered to help the Jackets sweep Guilford with a 6-4 win in game two. On Saturday, when Randolph-Macon hit five home runs to thump Lynchburg 7-1, it looked as if the Jackets were developing a weekend to remember.
But when Mitchell predicted a plethora of sweeps, he based it on the parity found among ODAC teams. The Hornets reminded everyone of that quickly, routing the Jackets in game two 11-1, getting to Best for seven runs on eight hits in five innings.
“We knew it would be tough playing Friday, Saturday, Sunday, then having to go 10 in the first game Friday, but it’s just one of those things,” said Randolph-Macon head coach Kevin Proffitt after the Lynchburg defeat. “Best was a little tired and we entered today worried about the pitching.”
Fighting for third place in the ODAC, the loss put more pressure on Randolph-Macon as they hit the road Sunday at Randolph College, led by Patrick Henry graduate and ODAC Freshman of the Year candidate Hunter Glave. McLaughlin dueled with Logan Carter of the Wildcats, going extra innings again, this time at 1-1.
A Best single scored Sharese Jarvis in the top of the eighth, but Glave led the charge in the Randolph half of the inning, doubling to score Erin Wehrhan to tie the game, advancing Jessica Nowak to third. Nowak scored the winning run on a Hannah Cook single for the 3-2 Wildcat win.
The Jackets fell behind early in game two 1-0, but scored four in the third, as Woody doubled to score Best and Madison Gilman, and later scored on an Amanda Sopko triple.
When the Wildcats touched up Best for two runs in the bottom of the frame to cut the Jackets lead to 4-3, Proffitt called on McLaughlin one more time. In five innings of relief, she scattered just four hits, as the Jackets added three more runs for a 7-3 victory.
“We got thrown into the fire early, with eight games postponed, then Virginia Wesleyan, Mary Washington, so we have to prepare ourselves quickly,” explained Jarvis, who, as a junior, is a leader both on and off the diamond.
Considering the struggles, the extra innings, and the travel, in an even ODAC, four out of six for Randolph-Macon is a job well done.
The Jackets hold to third place in the conference at 7-5 and are 15-7 overall. Their next six ODAC games are all away from Ashland, as they faced Sweet Briar Wednesday for two, then have doubleheaders Saturday at Bridgewater and Sunday at Eastern Mennonite.
McLaughlin was named ODAC Pitcher of the Week for her efforts in the circle, going 3-1, pitching 29 innings with a 1.21 ERA.
Glave, daughter of Jim and Marti Glave of Ashland, is currently fourth in the ODAC in batting with a .488 average, 25 RBI and 24 runs scored in just 23 games.