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COLUMBUS, Ga. – Nine programs were able to get an early start at the NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic on Thursday evening at the South Commons Complex. With an expected inclement forecast on March 1, five games were contested on Thursday with Belhaven, Case Western Reserve, Central, DePauw and Trine coming out victorious. Due to that inclement weather, the originally-scheduled 1:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. games will be played at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., respectively. 

Reigning NCAA DIII national champion Trine opened play with a resounding 17-0 five-inning victory over Piedmont. The Thunder sent 14 batters to the plate and pushed across 10 runs in the first inning in their season-opening win. They finished with nine hits and took advantage of five Piedmont miscues.

Tournament Central

The next two matchups went to extras as Central erased a total of five different deficits to edge DePauw, 10-9 in 10 innings, while Belhaven topped Illinois Wesleyan, 3-1 in eight innings. Of those five deficits, the final three came in extra innings, as the Dutch extended the game with three runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth before winning it in the 10th courtesy of a walk-off double by Rylee Dunkin.

Following a scoreless seven innings, Belhaven struck for three in the top of the eighth and held off IWU for the victory. Ellie Jones provided the big blow for the Blazers with a two-out, two-run double.

In the final two matchups of the evening, Case Western Reserve blanked Mary Hardin-Baylor, 5-0, and DePauw defeated Babson, 3-2 in eight innings.

KaiLi Gross and Katelyn Lamm each launched solo home runs and Lexi Miskey and Kylie Hosey combined on a two-hit shutout for the Spartans. Miskey struck out the first nine batters of the game and finished with 10 punchouts, surrendering both base hits. Hosey fanned one and walked one in the final two innings.

The Tigers rebounded from a tournament-opening loss by scoring two runs in the top of the eighth and then holding off Babson, who had the tying run on in the bottom half of the frame.

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