by Benny Benton
PEMBROKE, N.C. – UNC Pembroke senior Abbey Walters tossed a no-hitter in game one, and two pitchers combined for a two-hitter in game two as the Braves blanked Barton College twice by identical 13-0 five-inning scores on Saturday at LRA Field.
Walters (4-0) walked one and struck out seven in the dominant opener. The no-hitter was the first thrown against Barton since Francis Marion University did so on the exact same field during a neutral-site meeting in 2014. Taylor Strickland (2-0) worked four innings of the nightcap, giving up the two hits and a walk.
Barton freshman Sierra Hearp, who ironically threw a no-hitter herself against Saint Augustine's University just a week ago, drew the one walk against Walters in the first contest, and collected one of the hits and the walk off Strickland in the second game. Senior Sydney Speight produced the only other hit of the day for the Lady Bulldogs, now 2-2.
UNC Pembroke (7-2) tallied 11 hits in game one off Barton pitchers Carolina Merrill (0-1) and Hearp. All six runs charged to Hearp were unearned after an error extended the fourth inning. Jamie Johnson and Taylor Gerhart each drove in three runs for UNCP.
The Braves pounded out 12 more hits in game two, all but one of those off starter Makayla Meeks (0-1), a sophomore transfer making her first Barton start. Johnson led off the bottom of the first for UNCP with a homer, and Alex Watkins added a two-run shot during a four-run second inning. Watkins and Walters both drove in three runs in the contest.
Barton will visit NCAA Division III program William Peace University on Saturday, Feb. 18, before returning home to host Shaw University on Sunday, Feb. 19, beginning at 1 p.m.