Lynchburg, Va. -- University of Lynchburg's softball team fell twice Saturday afternoon to No. 18 Emory University, 9-5 and 10-8, as the Eagles captured the NCAA Division III Lynchburg, Virginia Super Regional championship and clinched one of eight berths to the national championships next week in Tyler, Texas.
No. 17 Lynchburg won the best-of-three series' first ballgame Friday afternoon.
Senior catcher Brittany Coffey (Manassas, Va.) had a career day, going 5-for-8 with two doubles and a home run at the plate and playing stellar defense behind it. Junior shortstop Kayla Hugate (Chesterfield, Va.) and senior first baseman Mackenzie Chitwood (Ferrum, Va.) each had two hits.
Game 1 started well for Emory U., as shortstop Cassie Baca ripped a first-inning RBI single, but the Hornets rallied back in the bottom half on Coffey's RBI double that scored Hugate.
Coffey put the Hornets ahead, 3-1, in the third inning with a two-run home run to left, her second of the weekend.
The Eagles cut the lead to 3-2 an inning later, but the big blow came in the form of a seven-run sixth inning. Two pitching changes couldn't get Lynchburg out of the inning, and the Hornets brought their starter, junior right-hander Alex Cisar (Sykesville, Md.) back in to finish the frame she'd started.
Lynchburg struck back with a two-run double from Chitwood, but the Hornets couldn't get any more runs across, and the Eagles took the opener.
Game 2 started much better for the Hornets, as Lynchburg took a 6-1 lead after two innings. Junior second baseman Sarah Commons (Glen Allen, Va.) started the rally with a leadoff single, and junior left fielder Carol Oberhelman (Washington Township, N.J.) brought her in with a bases-loaded single up the middle. Hugate brought in Lynchburg's second run with a sacrifice fly, and Lynchburg also scored on a wild pitch, an Eagles error, and Coffey's two-run double off the center-field fence to take the commanding lead.
Emory fought back with two runs in the fourth, however, and three more in the fifth to tie the game at 6. The Eagles rallied again in the sixth to take a 9-6 lead, and Mattie Ryan's leadoff homer in the seventh inning put Emory ahead 10-6 heading into Lynchburg's last chance.
The Hornets got started on the right foot thanks to a leadoff walk by senior third baseman Taylor Mabry (Bassett, Va.), and Chitwood followed with a walk to give Lynchburg two baserunners. Coffey singled through the left side to load the bases, and the Hornets scored on RBI groundouts by Commons and sophomore center fielder Haylee Wood (Goode, Va.) to cut the deficit to 10-8.
After a single and a walk, Oberhelman struck a line drive that was snagged by Eagles second baseman Sarah Katz to end the ballgame and the Hornets' season.
Emory's Baca earned most outstanding player honors for the series, while Eagles left-hander Madison Schaefer earned a win and a save in Saturday's action to be named most outstanding pitcher.
Lynchburg finishes the season with a 37-15 record, the second-most wins in program history.
The 2019 season marked the seventh NCAA tournament berth for the Hornets and the second time Lynchburg advanced past the regional round.