NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University softball team capped off its senior day with a dramatic come-from-behind walk off victory to sweep a crucial Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) doubleheader vs. Regis (Mass.) on Thursday afternoon on the NU Softball Field.
Norwich (12-12, 6-6 GNAC) leveled its record to .500 on the year and stretched its winning streak to four straight games with a 10-0 win in five innings in the first game, before rallying for a 6-5 win in nine innings in the nightcap.
Sophomore Brittany Vandergroef (Lodi, N.J.) hit a sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough to score senior Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) for the game-winning run from third base in the bottom of the ninth.
After falling behind 5-2 in the top of the inning, Norwich went to work in the bottom half of the inning with Katie Reid (Gold Canyon, Ariz.) opening the inning with a single through the left side to advance Dara Kelly (Chesterfield, N.J.) to third after she started the inning on second with the international tiebreaker rule.
Senior Naomi Rinaldo (Middlefield, Conn.) singled through the left side to score Kelly and cut the deficit to 5-3. Oliver kept the rally going with a RBI double over the centerfielder's head to score Reid and make it 5-4 Regis.
The Cadets tied the game when Rinaldo raced home on a wild pitch to knot the game at 5-5 and set up Vandergroef and Oliver's walk off winner heroics.
Norwich took the 1-0 lead in Game 2 in the bottom of the third with Makenna Wade (Saint Johns, Fla.) scoring on an errant throw from the catcher.
Regis took the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth inning with a pair of unearned runs. Rinaldo tied the game back up in the bottom of the sixth with a RBI single to left field to score Miller from third base.
Neither side was able to score in the seventh or the eighth inning before the fireworks that started in the top of the ninth inning. Regis (4-28, 1-13 GNAC) scored three runs in the top of the inning with Sarah Fawcett, Brianna Napoleone and Morgan LeBaron all notching RBI hits to stake the Pride to a 5-2 lead.
Vandergroef threw 7.1 brilliant innings, surrendering just two hits and no earned runs while notching a strikeout in the no decision. Oliver came on for the final 1.2 innings and earned the victory thanks to the Cadets' walk off heroics.
Oliver also threw Game 1 and earned the win, firing a complete-game shutout victory and gave up just two hits. With the two victories, Oliver improved her season record to 9-6.
Norwich pounded out 10 hits in the opener, led by a 2-for-3 effort from freshman Maggie Rasmussen (Kingston, N.H.) and three RBIs to lead the offense. Kaylee Blanchard (Worcester, Mass.) also went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Miller had a two-run single and Reid notched the Cadets' other RBI in the win.
Rinaldo went 2-for-3, while Oliver and Vandergroef each scored two runs for the Cadets.
Norwich clinched a playoff spot with the sweep to return to the postseason after missing the GNAC Tournament last season. The Cadets still have two more GNAC doubleheaders to play at Rivier on Saturday and then NU hosts Simmons College on Sunday on the NU Softball Field.
Norwich currently sits with a 6-6 record in league play and fourth place in the GNAC North standings. The Cadets are two games behind Saint Joseph's (Maine), who is third with an 8-4 record.