The Wildcats Score in the 6th to Defeat the UMBC Retrievers 4 – 3
May 22, 2021 –
The winner of the game would get their first NCAA Tournament victory, the loser would be eliminated. Both teams battled to be the former not the latter. The aces for both teams were in the circle. The Villanova Wildcats got the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, and keep the season alive. Villanova gets a rematch against Ole Miss right away. A doubleheader is tough in a tournament setting, but Nova will take it.
A pitchers duel was in the offing, and Villanova hurler Paige Rauch and Courtney Coppersmith of UMBC battled for 7 innings. But it was the Wildcats duo of catcher Ally Jones and centerfielder Sydney Hayes that provided the path to victory. Trailing 3 – 0 in the bottom of the fourth Jones hit a 2-run home run to right field to tie the score. In the 6th she doubled down the right field line. Hayes came in as a pinch runner. Right fielder Tess Cites hit a infield single that was hard to handle. Hayes was going from second all the way to score the game-winning run. There was still more. In the top of the 7th with Sierra Pierce on first for the Retrievers, third baseman Casey Turner sent a long fly to center. Hayes reached up and caught the ball, which was half in her glove and half out to end the game. Villanova survives and advances to a second elimination game.
Rauch struck out 6 throwing 107 pitches in the win. Offensively, it was Rauch that got the Wildcats started. In the fourth inning Rauch got the first hit off Coppersmith, a double to right, then scored on a single by shortstop Megan Kern. Jones tied it two batters later.
To that point Coppersmith was breezing through the Wildcats lineup. The UMBC hurler who led the nation in ERA, struck out 8 in a row. For the game Coppersmith fanned 12 batters. She threw 122 pitches. If you have a lot of strike outs, you throw a lot of pitches.
UMBC took a 2- 0 lead in the top of the third inning. Coppersmith began the stanza doubling to left field. Later in the at bat UMBC put runners on second and third. Pierce sent a fly to left field. Nova outfielder Dani Dobroski dove for the ball. She got leather on it, but the ball and glove slid away allowing both runners to cross the plate.
In the top of the fourth inning Karly Keating reached third base for the Retrievers. Coppersmith reached base on a fielding error, an RBI as Keating scored to make the score 3 – 0.
Villanova would start their comeback in the bottom of that inning.
Jones went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.
Pierce had 3 hits in 4 at bats for UMBC driving in 2 runs. Shortstop Maddie Daigneau was 2 for 4 with a run scord.
Villanova posts the first NCAA Tournament victory in program history.
Written By: Glenn Papazian