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Softball Makes Program History with NCAA Regional Final Appearance

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
Sophomore pitcher Kat Gallant earned the win for Villanova over No. 12 Arkansas on Saturday, May 18. The Wildcats move onto the NCAA Regional Final for the first time ever.

A 7–2 upset of No. 12 Arkansas in the NCAA Regional semifinal on Saturday, May 18 wasn’t Villanova’s only reason for celebration this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.

Marking their second-ever NCAA tournament victory, the Wildcats reached a major program milestone with the win. Claiming the Big East title over UConn on April 28 was just the beginning, as Villanova went on to compete in the NCAA Regional final for the first time in program history.

The record-breaking season culminated with a 9–4 loss to No. 17 Arizona on Sunday, May 19.

Villanova put its competitive caliber on display against Arkansas on their home field. The Wildcats sent the Razorbacks home as the first seeded team to be eliminated from the 2024 tournament.

Sophomore starting pitcher Kat Gallant received the win. Through five innings in the circle, she struck out four with no walks and two earned runs. Senior Caroline Pellicano finished off the Razorbacks in the last two innings, recording two strikeouts and no walks.

Bats were hot across the Villanova lineup to bring in the dominating victory.

Both senior outfielder Tess Cites and junior utility Elaina Wagner finished the night with two hits and two RBIs. Graduate third baseman Chloe Smith and freshman outfielder Elizabeth Gray also notched a pair of hits each.

The game was highlighted by a fourth-inning double from Cites, scoring both Smith and Gray. Cites then made it home on an RBI single from Wagner to put Villanova up 5–2.

The ‘Cats recorded an additional two runs in the fifth, including a two-out single from Gray that plated Smith.

Sunday’s matchup was the second meeting this tournament between the two Wildcats, after Arizona knocked down Villanova 14–3 on Friday, May 17.

Villanova put up a stronger fight against Arizona the second time around. Cites kept the offense going with three hits, including two doubles and two RBIs.

After a hitless opening frame for the ‘Cats, junior shortstop Ava Franz hit a two-out single in the second.

Arizona achieved an early lead in the first three innings, recording seven runs, including two homers, while keeping Villanova scoreless.

Villanova was unable to bring any runners home until a productive fourth inning with four total runs. After a walk and a hit-by-pitch put two Wildcats on base, Smith knocked in a deep single to score graduate catcher Ally Jones. An ensuing single from Gray brought in White. Cites smashed a double to score two more.

Two more home runs from Arizona in the fifth inning prevented Villanova from completing the comeback effort.

White took the loss, tossing the first two frames. Three more Wildcats — Gallant, senior Alyssa Seidler and Pellicano — appeared in the circle for the NCAA Regional Final. Gallant notched Villanova’s only strikeout of the game during her 2.2 innings pitched.

Villanova didn’t leave Fayetteville empty-handed. Following the win over Arkansas, Jones and sophomore second baseman Lilly St. Jean both received All-Mideast second team honors, and Cites earned third team recognition.

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About the Contributor
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis, Co-Sports Editor
Katie Lewis is a sophomore from Miami, FL in her first year as Co-Sports Editor in 2024. From covering games to writing features and profiles, she loves to find the story behind Villanova sports. Pursuing her enthusiasm for writing and journalism in her studies at Villanova, Katie is double-majoring in English and Communication with concentrations in Journalism and Writing & Rhetoric. When Katie isn’t at Holy Grounds working on her next article, she enjoys playing tennis with Villanova’s club team.
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