NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Randolph-Macon senior pitcher Candace Whittemore held Christopher Newport to just six runs on six hits in two games Saturday, leading the Yellow Jackets to consecutive 4-3 victories over the Captains. R-MC, now 30-15, won the NCAA Division III Softball Super Regional at Captains Park, and will advance to play in the National Finals next week in Tyler, Texas.
CNU, ranked 11th in the nation, had dropped just two games at home all season before losing the pair on Saturday on a hot and sunny day at Captains Park. Christopher Newport finished the 2019 campaign with a 37-9 overall record and a 22-4 mark at home. Keith Parr's team had beaten Whittemore and the Yellow Jackets, 8-3, in the opening game of the best-of-three series on Friday.
Whittemore, who improved to 20-8 on the season, threw 345 total pitches in the three games of the Super Regional for the Yellow Jackets. She allowed three runs on just one hit in Saturday's opener, a bunt single from sophomore shortstop Natalie Carmichael. Whittemore then followed with another remarkable performance...turning away the Captains in the nightcap by yielding three runs and just five hits. Junior pinch-hitter Krista Jasak ended the shutout by smacking a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning of game two, the first home run of her career, but the Captains rally ended there and again the squad wound up on the short end of a 4-3 final.
"If you had told me before the season that we would be one of the last 16 teams playing, I would have been happy...but certainly not satisfied," Parr said following the losses. "We have a lot of talent and so much of it coming back, there's a very bright future."
CNU was the visiting team in the opening game Saturday, and held the lead for the first the first six frames. Whittemore did not start in the pitching circle, but entered the game after just two walked batters in the first inning as R-MC starter Ali Celiberti was suffering from an injury sustained during warmups. The Captains plated two runs thanks to a total of four walks in the inning, as freshman Kaitlyn Hasty drew a free pass with the bases full and then freshman Caitlyn Abernethy delivered a sacrifice fly.
After the Yellow Jackets cut the lead to 2-1, CNU scored another run without recording a base hit in the fourth. Sophomore Keely Crittenden reached on an error allowing Abernethy, who had been hit by a pitch, to come home to make it 3-1. Randolph-Macon then chipped away by scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull even at 3-3.
Randolph-Macon, the home team in game one, walked off with the win in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single from Shelby Hill for the 4-3 triumph. Junior Aubrey Bates went the distance for CNU in opener, dropping to 13-3 with the loss. She allowed four runs, only three earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts. Whittemore upper her mark to 19-8 by pitching eight innings and allowing three runs on one hit with five strikeouts.
In the rubber game of the three-game series, the Yellow Jackets took control of the game by scoring single runs in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings. Meanwhile, Whittemore held the Captains scoreless until Jasak's pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the seventh. Whittemore improved to 20-8 by allowing three runs on five hits, and striking out seven. Trish Webb went the distance in the nightcap for the Captains, giving up four runs on 11 hits while striking out four. Her season ended with a 9-5 record.
The trip to the National Finals next week will be the first ever for Randolph-Macon. Whittemore was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Super Regional, while Shelby Hill was tabbed the Most Outstanding Player.
The Captains, who set a new school mark for home runs in a season with 68, clubbed just one in the three Super Regional games, Jasak's three-run blast in the seventh inning of the final game.
The end of the season marked the conclusion of senior Nicole Killen's CNU career. Killen, a catcher, was the only senior on CNU's roster.