HARRISONBURG, Va. – The College of Charleston softball team combined with Elon for the longest CAA tournament game of in conference history, spanning 13 innings, and crossed from Wednesday to Thursday, ending at 1:24 a.m.
Ironically, the longest game in CAA tournament history, and the longest game that the Cougars have played this season, also comes on the 25th anniversary of the longest NCAA softball game in history. That game, played in 1991, saw Creighton and Utah play a 31-inning game, followed by a 25-inning game on the same day.
Today’s game looked much different than 1991’s game, although, with the one hour and 21 minute rain delay in the second inning, the total elapsed time was only an hour off from that seven hour, 31-inning, contest. The CAA tournament was marred with three rain delays on Wednesday, for a total of three hours and 39 minutes between them.
Sara Garcia led the Cougars with three hits, all three of which came in consecutive at-bats in extra innings. Her final hit, a double to left-center field, drove home Rebecca Mueller from second base, and won the game in the bottom of the 13th inning.
“I have never played a game that was that long in my entire life.” Garcia said with a smile “I can’t say that I came into that at-bat with any pressure, I just knew that my team needed a run, and I did what I could to make that happen. It was definitely an awesome moment though.”
The Cougars (34-22, 11-9) opened the scoring action with a two run inning in the bottom of the first. Charleston loaded the bases, and then saw two runs forced in due to a Jordin Jones walk, and then a Kashmir Huckaby hit-by-pitch.
The action then suddenly came to a halt in the bottom of the second inning when the rain picked up and made the field unplayable for over an hour. When play resumed, the Phoenix made their move. Elon scored a single run in both the third, and fourth innings, tying the game at 2-2. The score would remain that way for the next eight and a half innings.
Charleston had plenty of opportunities to break the tie though, as it loaded the bases in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, and had runners in scoring position in the seventh, ninth, and 11th innings; all without any runs crossing home plate. They left a season-high 13 runners on base through the first seven innings, and a season-high 17 runners on base overall.
Sydney Shipley got the start for the College, tossing 7.1 innings while allowing only five hits and two runs over that span. She was relieved by Valerie Cassell in the eighth, and Cassell went on to pitch the final 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and no runs en route to her seventh win of the season.
The College’s late game heroics have earned it the right to continue playing, and they will face No. 5 seeded Delaware on Thursday, May 12 at 2:30 p.m. At this point, the Cougars are now in win or go home territory, and the winner of the game between CofC and the Blue Hens will go on to play the loser of James Madison and Towson, at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.
The Cougars took two of three games from Delaware earlier this season, and own the all-time series record against the Blue Hens, six games to three.
Live stats for the College’s game against Delaware can be found at CAAStats.com, and live video from the game can be found at CAA.tv. For up to the minute updates regarding the College of Charleston softball team, follow the team on Twitter at @CofCSoftball, or head over to CofCSports.com.