ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- The six-seed Meredith College Angels knocked off the top-seed N.C. Wesleyan Bishops in Thursday's USA South Softball East Division Playoff series. MCSB will advance to next weekend's double-elimination tournament in LaGrange, Georgia, as part of the league's Spring Festival.
Meredith started strong with a lead-off triple from Kelsey Mabe to open the day, and she scored with help from an error during Bryce Smith's at-bat. Smith scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to give the Avenging Angels a 2-0 advantage. the MCSB defense took care of the first three Bishops, including a third-out strikeout for rookie pitcher Sarah Gundlach to close out the frame.
Anna Goldman drilled a solo home run in the top of two to maintain Meredith's momentum before Bishop Beth Braswell struckout three consecutive Angels to end the frame. Wesleyan advanced two on a pair of singles in the bottom of the inning, and the runners picked up an extra base apiece with help from an outfield misstep. A third hit scored one, and a wild pitch advanced a second. Gundlach struckout another Bishop to end the inning with the Avenging Angels in the lead 3-2.
Charley Cox opened the third with a walk and moved to second with a single from Smith. A sacrifice from Susanne Taylor advanced the runners, and both scored on the next at-bat with help from an infield error.
Gundlach's third strikeout stranded two Bishops in the bottom of the third to keep Meredith in the lead for the eventual win.
Gundlach earned her 12th win allowing six hits with one earned run and one walk, while striking out five. Braswell recorded the loss with two earned runs, striking out eight Angels.
The Avenging Angels first runners came in the bottom of the fourth with a walk from Mabe, followed by a sacrifice from Cox. An infield error with Smith at the plate moved Mabe to third, but the Bishops recorded a double play on Taylor's swing to end the inning unharmed.
MCSB's defense continued to hold N.C. Wesleyan scoreless as well, until the top of six. Nichole Mooney led off with a double, and Meredith Mize followed with a single to right. The Avenging Angels caught Mooney trying to steal home, but Kayla Molivas would score Mize for a 1-0 Bishop advantage.
Mabe recorded a two-out single in the bottom of the frame but would not score. Down one, Gundlach struckout the leadoff Bishop in the seventh, and the outfield handled the next two outs to return the Angels to the dugout for one last opportunity.
Smith singled, and Taylor sacrificed. Hamilton singled to right, and Goldman earned her fourth-RBI on the day with a hit. Hamilton scored the winning run on an outfield misstep to end the game in favor of MCSB for the sweep.
Gundlach pitched her second complete game on the day for her 13th win, and Shelby Godwin recorded the loss for the Bishops.
With the win Meredith benefits from a first-round bye in the tournament bracket and will play their next game Friday, April 26, at 2 p.m. in LaGrange, Ga.