by Benny Benton
DUNCAN, S.C. – Barton College sophomore Hannah Jones collected pitching victories in both ends of the doubleheader and her team pounded out a combined 22 hits on offense as the Lady Bulldogs swept host Converse College, 5-0 and 7-6, in Conference Carolinas softball action Saturday at Tyger River Park.
Jones (10-6) tossed a complete-game three-hit shutout in game one, then scattered four hits over four innings of relief to earn the win in the nightcap as well.
Seniors Taylor Bowden and Sierra Speight both went 4-for-8 at the plate in the twinbill to pace the offense, while junior Brittany Jacobs went 3-for-7 with three RBI. Freshman Sierra Hearp added a 3-for-4 game in the second contest, including a single in the sixth that produced the game-winning RBI.
The sweep left Barton with a record of 21-20 overall and 8-6 in league play, while the Valkyries fell to 4-21 overall and 2-10 in the conference.
Game 1: Barton 5, Converse 0
Jones allowed only a single in the third inning, a double in the fourth and a single in the seventh in collecting her third shutout of the season. The Huntersville, N.C., resident walked three and struck out a pair.
The Lady Bulldogs gave her all the run support she would need in the second inning when Taylor Martin reached on a leadoff single, stole second and scored on a two-out error by Converse.
Barton scored two more runs in the fifth on RBI doubles by Megan Kelly and Jacobs, then added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
The Lady Bulldogs produced 10 hits in the contest, with Bowden, Jacobs, Martin and Speight collecting two each.
Game 2: Barton 7, Converse 6
The Valkyries got on the board first in the nightcap, scoring three times in the second inning on a pair of hits and a Barton error.
Barton got the three runs right back in the top of the third after Makayla Meeks led off the inning with a double. Bowden drove in one run on an RBI single, and two more runs came home on RBI groundouts by Speight and Jacobs.
The Lady Bulldogs took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fourth without the benefit of a hit, as Converse pitchers hit a batter, issued two walks and gave up an RBI groundout.
However, Barton failed to extend the lead after stranding a pair of baserunners in the fourth, and the Valkyries capitalized by tying the game right back in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff walk, a pair of singles and a wild pitch.
Meeks, who started the game for BC, was lifted after the leadoff walk in favor of Jones. Meeks gave up three hits and four runs, three of them earned, in three-plus innings of work while walking a pair and striking out one.
BC moved in front once more in the fifth when Hearp delivered a one-out double and scored on a two-out single by Jones. However, two Converse hits and a pair of Barton errors led to two runs for the Valkyries in the bottom of the fifth and a 6-5 Converse lead.
The Lady Bulldogs responded again in the top of the sixth with a clutch two-out rally, starting with a single up the middle by Bowden. Speight also singled up the middle, and Jacobs followed with a single to center, scoring Bowden with the tying run. Hearp made it four straight hits with a single to left-center, driving in Speight with the go-ahead run.
This time, Converse could not match BC, as Jones retired the final six Valkyries in order to seal the victory. Jones did not walk a batter and struck out two in her four innings of work to earn her sixth win in her last eight decisions.
Barton totaled 12 hits off four Converse pitchers. In addition to the three from Hearp, Bowden, Speight and Meeks all added two hits each, with Bowden and Jacobs both driving in two runs as well.
The Lady Bulldogs will complete their two-day road trip with a visit to Gaffney, S.C., to face nationally-ranked No. 24 Limestone College, which improved to 33-7 on the season Saturday with a doubleheader sweep of University of Mount Olive.