Longwood softball team advances to Big South Championship final

Published 4:35 am Saturday, May 13, 2023

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Pressure makes diamonds. That phrase certainly came true for Longwood on Friday afternoon. Kayley DeVivi walked-off the USC Upstate Spartans with a solo home run to send the Lancers to their second straight Big South Championship final.

It was win or go home for Longwood, as the Lancers fell to Campbell in their opening game of the day, forcing the elimination game against Upstate. Clutch hitting and a rock-solid Er’ron Burton in the circle helped pave the way for the 5-4 win.

“I’m proud of [DeVivi] for staying with the process,” said head coach Dr. Megan Brown. “It’s easy to let previous at bats linger along for the day, and she did a really good job of taking things one pitch at a time. Really proud and happy for her.”

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Burton, who threw the final two innings against Campbell, tossed a complete seven-inning game to send the Lancers to championship Saturday. Despite conceding a three-run homer in the first to the Spartans, Burton battled the rest of the way. She only gave up one unearned run in the seventh after five straight scoreless frames.

“[We were] staying clear and staying simple with [Burton’s] game plan,” said Dr. Brown. “She’s just a fighter, and that’s indicative of our entire team one through eighteen. They have the most grit and fight of any group of young women I’ve had the privilege of being associated with, so I could not be prouder and I’m excited for what lies ahead.”

After Upstate’s Tiffany Dominigue connected on a three-run shot in the first, Maryanna Guy put the wheels in motion for the Lancers offense with an RBI single. Emily Vinson set Longwood up nicely thereafter, crushing a triple down the right field line to lead-off in the second.

Eight total Lancers recorded a hit in the game, including a Lauren Taylor two-RBI double that put Longwood ahead for the majority of the game. However, the Spartans kept fighting, as they managed to tie the ballgame at four apiece in the top of the seventh inning.

“Upstate is an amazing program, they’re so well-coached and well-prepared,” said Dr. Brown. “They have tremendous talent up and down the lineup, so it was going to be a hard-fought game no matter what.”

One final chance at Big South Championship

Before all the excitement of the final game of the day, the Lancers came up short against Campbell in a 5-1 loss. Longwood left nine runners on base while the Camels sent two shots over the outfield wall to give them the lead. Big South Pitcher of the Year Isabella Smith threw a full seven innings for the Camels while escaping several bases-loaded situations to secure them the win.

The Lancers will take on Campbell on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with a chance to force a championship-deciding second game.

“We’re going to have a really strong plan, because Campbell came out very aggressive,” said Dr. Brown. “They had a really good plan in game one, so we’ll be getting ourselves ready for a busy day tomorrow.”