NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University softball team concluded the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) regular season with a series split vs. South division-leading Simmons University on Sunday afternoon.
Norwich dropped the first game 3-1 in eight innings, but then rallied for a 4-2 victory in Game 2. The Cadets finished the regular season with an 8-8 league record and a 14-14 overall record.
NU earned the No. 4 seed in the GNAC North division and will now face No. 3 Saint Joseph's (Maine) in a GNAC Tournament First Round matchup on Tuesday. That game will be single elimination and then the winner advances to the second round and the double-elimination portion of the tournament that starts on Thursday.
Senior Madison Miller (Patterson, Ga.) broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run single to centerfield that scored Brittany Vandergroef (Lodi, N.J.) and Kaylee Blanchard (Worcester, Mass.) for the game-winning run and an insurance tally.
Vandergroef also threw a gem in the pitching circle, giving up one earned run on six hits and a strikeout while walking one to improve to 4-4 on the season.
Vandergroef went 2-for-3 at the plate and senior Emily Oliver (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) also went 3-for-3 at the dish in Game 2 to lead the offense.
Simmons took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning with a RBI double to right centerfield by Alex Morang that scored Shannon McMahon from first base who reached by walking.
Norwich responded in the bottom of the fourth inning with Vandergroef scoring on a RBI single down the left field line with the bases loaded to score Oliver and Makenna Wade (Saint Johns, Fla.) also came around to score on a fielding error by the Simmons left fielder.
Simmons tied the game back up at 2-2, capitalizing on an error for Norwich's right fielder with a ball off the bat of Ivy Vann. Allie Mulhern came around to score on the play for the Sharks.
In Game 1, Simmons' Maddie Castigliego threw a complete-game, three-hitter to shut down the Norwich offense and earn her 11th victory of the year.
She also had a RBI hit in the top of the fourth inning that scored Christie Bott and give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.
Norwich responded in the bottom of the fifth inning with Blanchard launching a RBI double over the centerfielder's head to score Wade and tie the game at 1-1.
Simmons took advantage of the international tiebreaker in the top of the eighth inning with back-to-back RBI doubles from Lauren Del Vacchio to score Danielle Carson and then Bott traded places with Del Vacchio with a RBI double of her own to make it 3-1 Sharks.
Norwich was unable to score in the bottom half of the inning.
Oliver was the tough-luck loser in the circle, giving up seven hits and two earned runs while striking out five to fall to 10-7 on the season.