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Captains advance to NCAA softball Super Regionals, sets up series with Virginia Wesleyan

The Captains will play cross-water rival Virginia Wesleyan next Friday and Saturday in a best-of-three Super Regional at a site to be determined.
Credit: CNU Athletics

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Christopher Newport University captured an NCAA Regional Championship Saturday afternoon at Captains Park, defeating Roanoke College by a 3-0 score. Sophomore pitchers Jamie Martin and Kate Alger combined for the shutout, as the tenth-ranked Captains advanced to the round of 16 in the 62-team tournament.

The Captains will play cross-water rival Virginia Wesleyan next Friday and Saturday in a best-of-three Super Regional at a site to be determined. The Marlins needed two games Saturday to beat the College of New Jersey in Virginia Beach to advance.

The regional final Saturday at Captains Park on a muggy and overcast day proved to be another outstanding pitcher's duel. CNU's Martin and Roanoke's Jada Karnes were dominant early, each throwing four scoreless innings to begin the game. After Martin wiggled out of a jam in the top of the fifth by registering her seventh strikeout of the game, the Captains finally broke through with a run in the bottom of the fifth frame.

With one out, senior catcher Bianca Palmer-Scott reached base on an infield single, and then stole second to get into scoring position. On a groundout, Palmer-Scott made her way to third base with two down, and junior Meredith Brickner came to the plate. Palmer-Scott waited for the right time to break for home, and following the return of the ball to the pitcher Karnes after a pitch to Brickner, Palmer-Scott broke for the plate and scored the first run of the day with her second stolen base of the inning.

The Captains would add two more runs in the sixth inning, as seniors Kensley Hess and Abby Rochette crossed the plate. Hess led off with a double to left, and was advanced to third on a successful sacrifice bunt by sophomore Kendall Bentley. Rochette came to the dish and hit a hard shot off the first baseman's glove, allowing Hess to scamper home. Rochette later also came home on a Roanoke error, and the three runs proved to be plenty of support for the stingy CNU pitchers.

Martin, who earned the victory to improve to 11-4 on the season, pitched the first five and two-thirds innings, yielding no runs on five singles with seven strikeouts and no walks. Alger entered in relief in the sixth, and struck out RC's Katie Houle to end the inning, stranding two runners at first and third. Alger then closed out the victory by tossing a scoreless seventh, leaving two more Maroons on base, and earning her third save of the season.

Roanoke senior starter Jada Karnes took the loss to fall to 18-6. Karnes pitched the first five-plus innings for the Maroons, and gave up eight hits but stranded seven Captains on the bases.

Alger, who threw a perfect game vs. Roanoke on Friday, was named the Most Outstanding Player of the three-day, double-elimination regional. Alger pitched in all three games, hurling nine and a-third innings while allowing no runs and just one hit. She struck out 11 and walked just two, and earned a victory and a save. She was joined on the All-Regional team by fellow Captains Rochette, Hess, Martin, and Palmer-Scott.

The Maroons season ended with a 29-14 final record. Karnes, and sophomores Madison Courts and Molly Epperson were all selected to the All-Regional squad. Misericordia's Alexa McHugh and Kaitlin Redling were also honored by being named to the All-Regional squad.

The Captains, now 29-10 on the year, have won 13 straight NCAA Tournament games...and will play a best-of-three Super Regional next Friday and Saturday against the Marlins at a site to be determined. Christopher Newport and Virginia Wesleyan met in the Super Regionals last season at Captains Park, and CNU won two straight to advance to the National Finals. The Marlins are 38-11, and lost to TCNJ, 7-4, in the first game Saturday before bouncing back to win the nightcap, 6-2, to advance.

Further details on next weekend's Super Regional will be posted on CNUsports.com when they become available.

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