COLUMBUS, Ga. – 4:10 p.m.
That was the mutually agreed ending time of Sunday’s Linfield-Illinois Wesleyan game that saw the two nationally ranked and 2012 NCAA Division III playoff adversaries settle for a “no contest” result in the Gold Bracket third-place game of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic.
Coaches and umpires agreed before the game to the drop-dead ending time due to pending flight arrangements for both teams. The tournament, featuring many of the nation’s top Division III programs, was staged about 90 minutes south of the Atlanta International Airport. The Wildcats were scheduled for a 7 p.m. departure.
Though statistics will not count and the game will go down as unofficial, the No. 9 Wildcats and eighth-ranked Titans waged a memorable battle nonetheless. Linfield had taken a 4-1 advantage, scoring all four of its runs in the fourth inning. Megan Wallo (Sr., Aloha, Ore.) and Karleigh Prestianni (Sr., Grants Pass, Ore.) each drove in two runs in the frame.
Illinois Wesleyan, the designated home team, rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth inning and had the bases loaded ready to score more runs when the clock reached 4:10.
As fate would have it, the game was originally scheduled to start at 2 o’clock Eastern time, but when prior contests ran long, the IWU-Linfield matchup did not get underway until just after 3 p.m.
Earlier Sunday in the championship semifinals, Claremont pitcher Hayley Schultz tossed a no-hitter during a 2-0 shutout of Linfield, dropping the ‘Cats into the third-place game.
Schultz, a sophomore, outdueled Linfield’s Karina Paavola (Jr., Kelso, Wash.) in a pitchers’ duel, striking out six Wildcats and coming within one hit batter of recording a perfect game.
The Athenas scored what proved to be the winning run in the second inning. Marie Bradvica singled, then was sacrificed to second by Roberts. A singled from Mikayla O’Neal sent Bradvica to third and she eventually scored on a two-out single by Janelle Shiozaki. Carlene Roberts added an insurance run for CMS in the fifth with a RBI single.
Paavola (5-1) was saddled with her first loss of the season.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Linfield’s hasty departure was eerily similar to a 1994 spring-break trip to California in which the Wildcats fled the tournament early in order to catch a return flight from the Bay Area. . . as Sunday’s play was halted by the time limit, the Wildcats sprinted to their team vans to a chorus of boos from the Illinois Wesleyan faithful. . . Linfield finished the Leadoff Classic with a 3-2 record, including wins over nationally ranked Ithaca (N.Y.) and St. Thomas (Minn.). . . Trine (Ind.) beat CMS 5-4 for the Gold Bracket championship.
Coach Jackson Vaughan
Three wins at Leadoff Classic
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128