Hearp tosses no-hitter in collegiate debut as Barton softball sweeps Saint Augustine’s

Barton College freshman Sierra Hearp delivers a pitch in Saturday's softball opener against Saint Augustine's University. Hearp tossed a no-hitter in her first collegiate start and also hit a home run in her first at-bat. | Photo by Brittany Arent
Barton College freshman Sierra Hearp delivers a pitch in Saturday's softball opener against Saint Augustine's University. Hearp tossed a no-hitter in her first collegiate start and also hit a home run in her first at-bat. | Photo by Brittany Arent

by Benny Benton

WILSON, N.C. – Barton College freshman Sierra Hearp produced a perfect start to her collegiate career on Saturday, tossing a no-hitter from the mound and drilling a home run in her first at-bat to lead the Lady Bulldogs past Saint Augustine's University, 8-0, in five innings.

Senior Megan Kelly went 3-for-3 at the plate for BC and drove in all three runs in game two, two of them coming on an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the fifth that provided the go-ahead runs in a 3-2 win.

The sweep handed new Barton head coach Junior Bailey his first career NCAA Division II victories after 10 highly successful seasons at Pitt Community College.

Hearp, a resident of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., walked the opening batter of game one, but that free pass was the only blemish in an otherwise perfect game, as she retired the remaining 15 batters she faced in order. Six of those outs were recorded by strikeout, including three straight in the first following the walk.

Leading off the second inning at the plate, Hearp gave herself all the run support she would need when she drilled a 1-0 pitch from Saint Augustine's starter Marley Parker over the fence in left field.

Barton added a second run in the inning after a pair of SAU errors, and tacked on four more runs in the third inning courtesy of five more miscues by the Falcons. Three BC hits and yet another error by Saint Augustine's in the fourth brought the eight-run rule into play.

Hearp went 2-for-3 at the plate in the contest with two RBI and two runs scored. Taylor Bowden and Hannah Jones each added two hits and an RBI for the Lady Bulldogs, which collected 10 total hits as a team.

Saint Augustine's collected its first hit of the day in the third inning of game two, as the No. 9 hitter in the order, Haili Pettifer served an 0-2 pitch from Jones back up the middle. Jasmine Rios followed with a triple to right, and Korey Hill added a sacrifice fly to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead.

The Lady Bulldogs got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame when Taylor Martin reached on a third-strike passed ball and scored on a two-out triple to left-center by Kelly.

The Falcons maintained their 2-1 advantage until the bottom of the fifth, when Kelly ripped a pitch from Makayla August into right field and raced all the way around the bases once the ball got past the outstretched reach of right fielder Akera McPhaul. Pinch-runner Ashley Burkett also scored on the play, which put Barton into the lead for the first time in the game.

The potential game-tying run for Saint Augustine's reached base with two outs in the seventh on Pettifer's third hit of the game, but Jones got a grounder back to the mound to end the game.

Jones allowed seven SAU hits, walked one and struck out win in collecting the win. August limited BC to just five hits, walked one and struck out six in the loss.

The sweep gives Barton a 2-0 start to its season for the first time since 2012, when the Lady Bulldogs started the year 5-0.

The Lady Bulldogs will hit the road for their next outing, a noon doubleheader on Saturday at UNC Pembroke.