by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College softball team was swept at the hands of nationally-ranked No. 15 Pfeiffer University on Wednesday, getting pummeled in the first game 20-2 and losing 6-2 in the nightcap. Both games went just five innings, the first due to the eight-rule run and the second due to darkness at Jeffries Field.
Pfeiffer (20-2, 2-0) pounded out 20 hits in the opener and rode the pitching of Caitlin Christian in the second game. Christian was one out from a no-hitter when Hannah Jones broke it up with an RBI single to left field. Sierra Hearp added an RBI single and the Lady Bulldogs (12-13, 1-3) loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the plate before Christian recorded a strikeout to end the game.
Game 2: Pfeiffer 6, Barton 2 (5 inn.)
The Falcons used two hits and a Barton error to score three runs in the first inning. Pfeiffer added an unearned run in the second following a BC error, and another in the third after Barton's third error of the contest. Pfeiffer tacked on a final run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly.
Barton didn't produce a baserunner off Christian (5-2) until Hearp drew a walk with one out in the fourth. Taylor Bowden traded places with Hearp after a fielder's choice groundout and eventually reached third following a pair of wild pitches, but Christian used a pop-up to short to keep the shutout intact.
Christian walked the leadoff batter to the fifth but retired the next two batters she faced. With the sun setting quickly behind the trees, it became clear that she needed just one more out to complete a no-hit bid, but Jones drilled a 1-2 offering into left field to break it up and drive in a run.
That hit broke out the bats for Barton. Sydney Speight followed with a single through the right side, Megan Kelly singled up the middle to load the bases and Hearp singled up the middle to drive in Jones, cutting the BC deficit to 6-2. Bowden then came to the plate as the potential game-tying run with the bases loaded, and battled through an epic 11-pitch at-bat before Christian retired her with an off-speed pitch.
Christian finished the game with four hits allowed, two walks and six strikeouts.
Hearp (6-2) took the loss for the Lady Bulldogs after giving up five hits and three earned runs, walking four and striking out three.
Game 1: Pfeiffer 20, Barton 2 (5 inn.)
The opening contest was essentially over before Barton ever got to bat, as the Falcons sent 16 batters to the plate in the top of the first, producing 10 hits and 12 runs. Kianna Millsaps and Stephanie Fortner both had bases-clearing doubles in the frame, and Millsaps added a second RBI double later in the inning.
Pfeiffer collected 20 hits in the five-inning affair and scored in every inning. Fortner finished the game 3-for-3 with 6 RBI, and was joined by three other players with three hits each.
Barton starter Carolina Merrill (0-5), the first of three pitchers in the game for the Lady Bulldogs, suffered the loss.
BC's offense, meanwhile, managed just four hits off Pfeiffer pitcher Kennedy Lester (6-0), who walked a pair and struck out five.
The Lady Bulldogs scored both of their runs in the fifth after Bowden led off the frame with a single and Kelly followed with a double. Bowden came home on a wild pitch and Kelly scored on a grounder off the bat of Brittany Jacobs.
Barton will play at home again on Thursday, hosting Davis & Elkins College in a non-conference doubleheader beginning at noon.