SALEM, Va. – Bridgewater College took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the second-seeded Roanoke Maroons scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth to drop the Eagles to the loser's bracket of the 2012 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) softball championships with a 3-1 loss on Saturday afternoon at the James I. Moyer Complex.
In the early innings, junior Aven Thomas and Maroons' hurler Kelly Higbie locked up in a pitcher's duel as the game remained at a scoreless deadlock through three innings of play. Bridgewater threatened in the second and third but couldn't plate a run against the Higbie, who leads the league in wins.
Bridgewater got on the board in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead midway through the contest.
Junior Heather Jenkins led off the fourth with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Thomas to put a runner in scoring position with one away.
Following the Thomas sacrifice, junior Leigh Lam stroked a single to right field for the first hit of the game for either team to put runners on the corners.
Two batters later, right fielder Morgan Williams pushed an 0-2 pitch though the middle of the infield and beat out the shortstop's throw to first, scoring Jenkins from third to hand the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Roanoke responded with a single run in the fourth to knot the game the game up at a run each after four complete.
Center fielder Leona Rainey opened the inning with a single and was driven in off of a double from the bat of Stephanie Clark to bring the game back to a deadlock at a 1-1 tally.
Bridgewater opened the fifth with back-to-back groundouts but looked to get things going with two away in the frame. Back-to-back singles from the bats of Melanie Lamb and Jenkins put runners at first and second with two away before an error on the shortstop loaded the bases.
Higbie pitched herself out of the bases-loaded jam to hold keep the game tied, 1-1.
Roanoke added a run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-1 advantage into the sixth when a two-out walk, followed by a single and a two-base error allowed the Maroons to push home the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the sixth, Williams and sophomore Kasey Anderson each stroked singles but Bridgewater again left runners on, including one in scoring position as it trailed Roanoke by a 2-1 score after five-and-a-half.
Clark stung a one-out double and was driven in off of a triple from the bat of Felice Lowery to build a 3-1 advantage for the Maroons after six complete, but the Eagles wouldn't go down without a fight.
Lamb led off the inning with a walk and was pushed to second on a Jenkins groundout to put a runner in scoring position with one away. Thomas reached on an error by the second baseman to put runners on the corners, forcing the Maroons to make a pitching change.
Maroons reliever Stephanie Clark entered the game and recorded a strikeout to put the Eagles down to their final out before freshman Amanda Lutz popped out to second to end the ball game, sending Bridgewater to the loser's bracket with a 3-1 loss.
The Eagles left 13 runners on base in the loss.
Bridgewater's offense was paced by Williams' 2-for-3 effort, while four other batters recorded a hit along the way.
Thomas picked up the loss in the circle, allowing three runs on five hits while fanning five.
Rainey and Clark led the way for the Roanoke offense with a pair of 2-for-3 performances. Both players also scored a run in the win.
Higbie earned the victory in the circle, allowing one run on six hits. Clark picked up the two-out save for the Maroons.
Bridgewater is back in action at 8 p.m. this evening when it tangles with the winner of the Eastern Mennonite and Virginia Wesleyan loser's bracket contest.