On a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon, the Shippensburg University softball team, seeded second, wrapped up its 2023 season in a thrilling face-off against the No. 19 seeded Charleston. The Shippensburg Raiders were defeated 4-3 and 7-2 by the Golden Eagles, concluding the 2023 Atlantic Region 2 bracket at the UC Softball Field.
Boasting a commendable 34-20 record, the Shippensburg team needed just one victory against Charleston (44-10) to advance to the much-anticipated “Super Regional” Championship series next weekend. The winner of the ongoing Atlantic Region 1 bracket at East Stroudsburg would meet them there.
The Raiders started strong, securing an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, courtesy of singles from junior Taylor Myers (Fayetteville, Pa./Chambersburg Area) and graduate Hannah Marsteller (Fredericksburg, Va./Riverbend). Freshman Caitlyn Martell (Morrisville, Pa./Pennsbury) scored off a passed ball, while junior Morgan Lindsay (Hereford, Pa /Upper Perkiomen (Colgate)) grounded out an RBI to bring Marsteller home.
However, Charleston responded swiftly. An RBI single in the bottom of the second and an RBI groundout in the third tied the game.
The Raiders retook the lead in the top of the fifth inning after Myers hit a single to right field. Marsteller doubled to left center to bring Myers home, providing the Raiders with a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the sixth, the Raiders loaded the bases with back-to-back singles from junior Alyssa Nehlen (Pulaski, Pa./West Middlesex) and freshman Kaira Zamadics (Allentown, Pa./Northampton Area). Freshman Emilee Sullivan (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) reached base due to an error from Charleston’s first baseman. However, an umpire ruled Myers out of the box after her single through the left side, nullifying the two runs scored.
In the bottom of the seventh, Charleston managed to score two runs, pushing the game into the “if-necessary” territory.
Sophomore Alicia Ball (Woodstock, Va./Central) pitched 6.0 innings with three strikeouts, while Zamadics came in as a relief pitcher and threw 0.2 innings with a strikeout. Zamadics started the “if-necessary” game and threw 3.0 innings with two strikeouts.
In the championship game, Charleston established a 6-0 lead after five innings. Despite this, the Raiders showed resilience, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. An RBI-triple by Marsteller to left center brought Martell home. Marsteller subsequently scored after Lindsay hit an RBI single to the pitcher. Despite their best efforts, the Raiders were unable to make a comeback in the bottom of the seventh.
Senior Emma Flattery (Macomb, Mich./Dakota) relieved with 1.2 innings, while redshirt-senior Maddie Uschock (Irwin, Pa./Hempfield Area (Dominican N.Y.)) threw 2.1 innings and had a strikeout.
The 2023 season saw the Shippensburg team making it to the NCAA Atlantic Region 2 Championship and winning two NCAA regional games, a feat they hadn’t achieved since 2014. SU also clinched its fourth Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship, the first since 2005.