ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- After five postponements due to weather, the Virginia Wesleyan College softball Marlins made their 2015 debut with a non-conference sweep at North Carolina Wesleyan College on Wednesday.
The 10th-ranked Marlins, who were originally schedule to open the season on Feb. 22, took advantage of the one day of good weather to get the kinks out, belting out a combined 22 hits against Battling Bishops pitching en route to an 11-2 five-inning win in the opener and a 7-0 decision in the second game.
VWC backed the balanced hitting with two solid pitching efforts, led by senior Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn/Briarwoods) in the first game and junior Mary Shipp (Virginia Beach/First Colonial) in the second game. Karagiorgis struck out seven batters and allowed just a walk and two hits, and Shipp fanned four and tossed a one-hitter.
Both games saw new faces in the pitching circle for the Marlins for the first time as well. Sophomore Kasey Newcomb (Henderson, N.C./Creedmore South Granville) tossed in the seventh in the first gam and gave up just two hits. Rookie Ilesh Burney (Bristol, Conn./Central) stepped in for VWC in the seven in the nightcap and struck out one, while allowing nothing to preserve the one-hitter.
Tori Paul (Princeton, N.C./Princeton) singled in the second inning to produce NCWC's only hit of the second game. From that point on Shipp and the VWC defense shut down the Bishops, retiring the host team in order in the last five innings.
The Marlins (2-0) never trailed in either game, opening up a 3-1 lead in the first contest with a five-run fourth inning. Courtney Bogan (Round Hill/Woodgrove) started the inning with a single and rookie Teresa Cardamone (Hernon/Chantilly) drew a walk. Both Marlins scored on a double from rookie Sami Pearce (Powhatan/Powhatan).
Junior Kayla Malkos (Roanoke/Cave Spring) also belted a double in the inning, scoring Pearce and sophomore Liz Bailey (Chesapeake/Greenbrier Christian), who walked earlier. Sophomore Blake Henderson (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) connected for an RBI single, scoring Bogan who walked in her second time at bat in the inning.
VWC tacked on three more runs in the top of the fifth, helped by a three-RBI double from rookie Cassety Howerin (Dover, Del./Caesar Rodney).
Kaitlyn Checkan (Cary, N.C./Cary) led NCWC hitting with a double. Jasmine Edgren (Cape Cateret, N.C./Croatan) took the pitching loss for the Bishops, working four innings, allowing eight walks, seven hits, and eight earned runs.
Virginia Wesleyan came through with four hits in the second inning of the second game to score three times for a lead never lost. Junior Taylor Galvin (Virginia Beach/Kempsville) and Bogan both singled in the inning, but the big belt was a two-run triple from rookie Kiersten Richardson (Richmond/Glen Allen).
VWC stretched the lead to 6-0 in the top of the six, helped by singles from Richardson, Galvin, and Howerin.
Virginia Wesleyan helped itself to the sweep with impressive base running that produced a combined 11 stolen bases. Bogan led that effort with four, including three in the first game.
Galvin earned as one of the most consistent Marlins with the bat, hitting 5-for-6 in the two games, including 3-for-3 in the second game when she drove in three runs. Bogan hit 3-for-5 overall and Howerin was 3-for-7, driving in a game-high six runs. Malkos, Galvin, and Howerin all had two hits each for VWC in the opener. Galvin led the Marlins with three hits in the second game.
The Marlins are scheduled to play again on Tuesday, March 10, hosting No. 2 ranked Salisbury University in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. on Marlins Field.