Barton, Francis Marion split softball twinbill; Jones tosses eight-hit shutout in opener

Archived photo of sophomore Hannah Jones, who tossed an eight-hit shutout in Barton's 4-0 victory over Francis Marion on Thursday. | Photo by Chris Kelly
Archived photo of sophomore Hannah Jones, who tossed an eight-hit shutout in Barton's 4-0 victory over Francis Marion on Thursday. | Photo by Chris Kelly

by Benny Benton

FLORENCE, S.C. – Barton College sophomore Hannah Jones tossed a complete-game eight-hitter from the mound and junior Brittany Jacobs provided three hits on offense as the Lady Bulldogs blanked Francis Marion University, 4-0, in the first game of a non-conference doubleheader Thursday at FMU Softball Stadium.

Barton (13-16) could not keep the powerful FMU offense in check for the entire doubleheader, however. In game two, the Patriots (22-8) blasted out 22 hits while holding BC to just one in an 18-0 five-inning rout.

Game 1: Barton 4, Francis Marion 0

Jones (5-4) did not walk a batter and struck out five in posting her second shutout of the season and fourth of her career. It marked just the second time this season that Francis Marion had failed to score a run in a game.

Barton gave Jones a lead in the top of the third when Megan Kelly reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on a single by Jacobs, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Bowden and scored on a single to right by Sierra Hearp.

Francis Marion starter Sydney Holland (10-6) stranded a pair of BC runners to avoid further damage in the inning, but in the fifth was the victim of an error that accounted for two unearned Barton runs.

Speight led off the BC fifth with a single, and Jacobs followed with her second hit of the day. An error at third on a grounder by Bowden loaded the bases, and Holland walked Hearp to force in a run. One out later, Holland uncorked a wild pitch to plate Jacobs with another run and put the Lady Bulldogs up 3-0.

Barton added one more unearned run in the seventh, as Bowden reached base on a fielder's choice and later scored on a throwing error by the FMU third baseman.

Francis Marion left runners in scoring position in five different innings. The Patriots left a total of nine runners on base, seven of those in scoring position.

FMU had two runners in scoring position in both the fourth and fifth innings, but Jones worked her way out of both jams to preserve her shutout.

Game 2: Francis Marion 18, Barton 0 (5 inn.)

The Patriots teed off on three Barton pitchers in game two, beginning with freshman starter Sierra Hearp (6-4), who was touched for 14 hits and 11 runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

Francis Marion collected four hits and three runs in the first inning, added four more hits and a pair of runs in the second, and exploded for eight hits and seven runs in the third to put away the game early.

Sophomore Chelsea Welty delivered an RBI single in the first, a two-run double in the second and a three-run double in the third to collect six RBI on the day. Sam Chiudina doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Patriots, and Rayni Newman drilled a two-run homer, her third of the season, off the scoreboard in the third inning.

Meanwhile, Francis Marion starter Samantha Wroblewski (8-1) tossed three perfect innings before issuing a walk to lead off the fourth. With two outs in the inning, Bowden hit a hard shot back to the mound that went off Wroblewski's glove towards second base. The second baseman fielded the ball but could not throw out Bowden in time, giving Barton its lone hit of the day.

Wroblewski left after walking the first batter of the fifth inning, and Cristi Pressley finished the frame to complete the shutout.

The doubleheader was the first of three straight on the road for the Lady Bulldogs. Barton will return to Conference Carolinas action on Friday with a 4 p.m. twinbill in Central, S.C., against Southern Wesleyan University.