The Division III national championship tournament started with a bang for No. 1 seed Linfield as the Wildcats belted 14 hits in a five-inning 11-0 victory over No. 8 seed Emory.
The entire Linfield lineup participated, as all nine hitters had at least one hit, led by catcher Jenna Loop. Loop went 2-3 with two home runs in her first two at-bats, resulting in five RBIs.
"The ball just looked big today. Sometimes you just see the ball really well," Loop said.
The Linfield offense erupted for six innings in the bottom half of the first, as leadoff hitter Stephanie Rice singled to start the game and then stole second base. After a Jenny Marshall single to left field, Rice scored on an error by the left fielder handling the ball. The Wildcats would bat through the order after scoring six on eight hits with one Emory error.
Loop's second homer came in the bottom of the second, as she sent a two-run shot over the center field fence to build the lead to 8-0. Emory starter Kathy Gordon settled down a bit through the remainder, giving up only one more earned run in the third. Linfield plated two unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth to complete the scoring.
Linfield starter Brittany Miller was just as effective in the circle, giving up just two hits in four and two-thirds innings of work. Miller injured her knee with just one out remaining in the final frame, and her status is uncertain for tomorrow's winner's bracket game.
Emory starter Kathy Gordon summed it up best. "We did the best we could - they just outplayed us."
Linfield advances to face the winner of the DePauw-Moravian matchup in a 4 p.m. EDT start tomorrow, while Emory will face the loser at 11 a.m. EDT.