Ashley Vohs' single to right field scored Denise Knight with the winning run in the eighth inning as Chapman knocked off Ithaca 5-4 Saturday evening at the NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Raleigh, N.C.
Friday's opening-round hero for the Panthers, Kim Sanders, started off the deciding frame with a leadoff double. With Knight pinch-running for her, Catherine Hall was intentionally walked and Sandra Burns singled to center to load the bases with no outs. Vohs then stepped up and delievered a high fly ball over the drawn-in Ithaca outfield.
"I went up there and everyone was behind me," Vohs said. "I had been late or hitting the outside pitch to the right side. I would have been happy with a ground ball to the right side as long as the run would have scored. I looked for the outside pitch because she had given me that pitch all night long. That one hung and it went further than I expected."
The single ended the highest-scoring game of the tournament in a game that saw three different lead changes.
"We played Ithaca earlier in season and it was a 1-0 game in eight innings. We knew it would be a battle," Chapman head coach Janet Lloyd said. "Both teams really hit the ball well. It was just like their first game today, getting base runners out there for both teams. We just needed that key hit and it took eight innings to get it.
"We had two 7-0 games in regionals, and since that point we've had all one-run games," Lloyd added. "The competition is getting much better, and every team here is a good team. I don't expect anything other than tough games."
Ithaca got on the board first with three runs in the third. Leigh Bonkowski continued her stellar player, plating Sara Coddington with her one-out single. Mel Chinigo drove in the final two runs with her single to right field that scored Bonkowski and Jessica Stangarone.
Chapman responded in the bottom half of the frame with three runs of its own. Keely Starr opened the inning with a single to second base and later scored on a throwing error. Sanders kicked off her 2-for-3, two RBI night with a double that scored Jill Jeranko and Katherine Searing with the tying runs.
"Kim is having an awesome tournament," Lloyd said. "She's a transfer from the University of Tennessee, and she's bringing her experience to our team in terms of what needs to be done. I think a lot of our players are listening to her. It has really helped out team to know what it takes to do our best. She spoke through her actions again."
Neither starter was able to get out of the third inning. Maggie Wilder once again struggled for Chapman, lasting two and a third innings and giving up three runs on four hits. Nicole Cade worked two innings for Ithaca, allowing two runs, one earned, on a pair of hits.
Carly Myers, who had a solid outing in Ithaca's opening game against William Paterson, worked the final five and suffered the loss by allowing three runs on seven hits. Jennifer Winford picked up her second victory in as many days, allowing a single run on three hits over five and two-thirds innings.
"Carly's performance was good, but she just couldn't get her change-up to work," Ithaca head coach Deb Pallozzi said. "When we played them in California, it was working. It's tough to go after a team like Chapman with just one speed because they're going to catch up with it and hit it. We were really out there dodging bullets because Chapman came right at us."
Ithaca regained the lead in the fifth as Bonkowski delivered another single. Lindsay Galli scored as the ball hit off of the umpire during the relay to the plate.
With both relief pitchers settling into the contest, the Panthers were able to dead-lock the game at 4-4 in the sixth as Kailee Roeser brought home Catherine Hall with her two-out single.
Ithaca had an opportunity to regain the lead with runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Winford recorded the final two outs via strikeout to work out of the jam and give the Panthers the opportunity to win the game.
Chapman advances to play St. Thomas Sunday at 5 p.m. in a game where the winner will move into Monday's championship contest. Ithaca will face Alma in an elimination game Sunday at 2:30 p.m.