SALEM, Va. – After Virginia Wesleyan tied the game up in the top of the seventh, junior Heather Jenkins stung the first pitch she saw over the left-center field fence to hand Bridgewater a 7-4 walk-off victory over Virginia Wesleyan on day one of the 2012 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) softball tournament.
With the win, the Eagles advance through the winner's bracket to tangle with Roanoke tomorrow afternoon.
Virginia Wesleyan had a runner on third base in the top of the first, but Jenkins worked her way out of a tough spot, keeping the game scoreless after half an inning.
Junior Melanie Lamb gave Bridgewater the early lead when she stroked a single to left field, building a 1-0 Eagles advantage after an inning of play.
Both teams went down in order in the second before the Marlins took the lead with a two-run third. Centerfielder Tori Higginbotham got the Marlins on the board with a triple to right field before she was pushed home on an infield bunt to give top-seeded Virginia Wesleyan a 2-1 lead.
Virginia Wesleyan's lead wouldn't last for long as Bridgewater responded with a two-run bottom of the inning to regain a 3-2 edge.
With one away, Anderson reached on a throwing error by the third baseman but was gunned down on a stolen-base attempt to retire two for the Eagles in the third.
Heretick drilled a single to left to get things rolling before advancing to second on an error to put a runner in scoring position for Bridgewater.
Lamb drew a four-pitch walk to put runners at first and second in the frame until Jenkins reached on an error by the centerfielder, pushing home Lamb and Heretick in the process to put Bridgewater back ahead by a 3-2 tally after three complete.
Both teams went down scoreless until Bridgewater extended its lead in the sixth.
Junior Aven Thomas reached on an error on the shortstop to get things going but a groundout to third pushed Thomas into scoring position with two away.
With two down, junior Sarah Goodman stepped in and drilled a pinch-hit single down the left-field line to push the Eagles lead to 4-2 after six innings of play.
In the top of the seventh, the Eagles were within one pitch of the victory until a walk and a wild pitch knotted the game up after a Higginbotham double got the Marlins to within one.
Bridgewater got things going in a hurry when Rees led off the bottom of the inning with a single through the legs of the Marlins' third baseman.
Anderson followed the Rees single with one of her own to put a runner in scoring position before a fielder's choice from Heretick pushed runners to the corners.
Lamb followed things up with a slow roller to Marlins' pitcher MacKenzie Creech and the Virginia Wesleyan hurler gunned Rees down at home to keep the score tied, 4-4.
Jenkins ended things quickly when she took Creech's first pitch over the fence in left, pushing home Heretick and Lamb on the homer to hand the Eagles a thrilling 7-4 victory.
Offensively, Heretick paced the way for the Eagles with a 2-for-4 effort, while Jenkins drove in three runs on her lone hit of the game.
Jenkins earned the victory in the circle, allowing four runs on eight Virginia Wesleyan hits.
The Marlins were paced by Higginbotham's 3-for-4 effort. Higginbotham drove in two runs and also scored twice to pace the Marlins attack.
Creech picked up the loss, allowing seven runs on seven Bridgewater hits.
The Eagles are back in action on Saturday at 2 p.m. when they tangle with second-seeded Roanoke on Field 1 at the James I. Moyer Complex.