May 27, 2011 at 2:42 AM CDT - Updated August 21 at 10:47 PM
Salem, Va. - The top-ranked UAH Chargers survived a weather delay and a late rally to beat No. 5 Midwestern State 3-2 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Softball World Series on Thursday night at the James I. Moyer Complex. The Chargers will advance into the winner's bracket to face No. 2 North Georgia on Friday. The game time has been moved up to 10:30 a.m. due to the threat of bad weather Friday afternoon and evening.
The Chargers (46-5-1) got on the board got on the board in the second inning on an RBI single by Abby MacKay. Kat Whitlock scored from second base to give UAH a 1-0 lead. Whitlock reached on a one-out single and went to second when Emily Roach was hit by a pitch.
UAH freshman pitcher Whitney Toler found herself in hot water in the third inning with runners on first and second with one out. However, she got out of the jam, stranding both Mustang runners. Then in the fourth, the Mustangs had the bases loaded with one out. One of the runners came as a result of an error. But, again Toler was brilliant, getting a pop-out and fly-out to end the inning.
The Chargers made the Mustangs pay for missing the opportunities posting a pair of runs in the fifth inning without the benefit of a hit. MacKay walked the lead off the inning. Then, Meagan Billingsley was hit by a pitch. Kellie Johnson followed with an attempted sacrifice bunt and wound up safe at first after Mustang All-American pitcher Brittany Tanner's throw to first was in the dirt. MacKay came around to score on the play to give the Chargers a 2-0 lead. Another run scored on a sacrifice fly by Krystal Johnson to make it 3-0.
After the third out of the inning was recorded, lightening flashed nearby and the umpires pulled the teams off the field. The Moyer Complex was cleared for safety reasons and the result was a 50-minute weather delay.
When play resumed, Toler cruised through the bottom of the fifth, but got in trouble in the sixth, walking the leadoff batter Courtney Bingham. Then, Tanner doubled to the gap in right-center, scoring Bingham and cutting the Charger lead to 3-1.
Charger closer Alex Lewis came on to put a stop to the Mustangs rally. After an illegal pitch sent Tanner to third, she scored on an error which trimmed the UAH lead to 3-2.
With the winning run at the plate, Lewis ended the threat. Then she retired the Mustangs in order in the seventh to earn her NCAA-leading 15th save of the season.
Toler (19-2) pitched five innings, allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits. She had three strikeouts and walked four. Lewis put up all zeros in her two innings of work.