The Rams (39-20) took on the UVa-Wise Cavaliers (35-18) in the Atlantic Regional round of the NCAA Division II Tournament Thursday afternoon. With the chance to extend the season on the line, Shepherd came out successful against the Cavaliers with a 5-1 victory.
Shepherd pitcher Tara Hanson (21-6), a senior, turned out another notable performance on the outing. Hanson pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits and one earned run despite facing 28 batters. She also had five strikeouts in the game.
The game began slow for both teams as no offense could be generated in the first inning. However, Rams left fielder Jessica Robinson, a junior, homered down the right field line in the top of the second inning, which also brought home senior right fielder Paige Buckworth.
The Rams’ 2-0 lead quickly became 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning with Cavaliers’ first basemen Olivia Cleary homering to right field.
That would mark virtually the only mistake of Tara Hanson’s outing, as the UVa-Wise offense came to a halt. The Cavaliers failed to score another run, but Shepherd wasn’t done adding to the lead.
On an error by Cavalier shortstop Nikki Smith, Rams first basemen Connor Gilligan advanced from second all the way home to bring the lead to 3-1 in the top of the third inning.
To finish off the scoring on the day, Rams center fielder Kaitlyn Kanopka, a sophomore, hit a deep fly ball to center field and Cavaliers center fielder Ava Hockey dropped the ball. Buckworth and utility player Bailee Jackson, a freshman, scored on the error to bring the lead to 5-1.
For the remainder of the contest it was a defensive showcase, as no additional offense could be generated by either team,
After the successful outing Thursday afternoon, the Rams will play West Chester University of Pennsylvania Friday an noon.
Vaughn Brewer is a Sports Reporter for The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com
After the publication of this article, it was announced that the Rams will not play today, Friday, May 12, due to inclement weather. Instead, the fifth-seeded Rams will hit the field tomorrow, Saturday, May 13, against the number one seed, West Chester University, for a 1 p.m. match up in Wise, Virginia.