by Benny Benton
MURFREESBORO, N.C. – Barton College freshman Jordan Blake made her collegiate debut in spectacular fashion on Saturday, blasting two home runs, collecting four total hits and driving in six runs as the Lady Bulldogs split their season-opening doubleheader with Chowan University.
Blake, a shortstop from Jackson Springs, N.C., ripped a solo home run to left field in her first career at-bat for Barton, the lone run in an 11-1 five-inning setback to the Hawks. She doubled home the game's first run in the nightcap, then blasted a grand slam in the second inning as BC erupted for an eight-run inning in an eventual 10-3 victory.
Sophomore Sierra Hearp, who had her own dramatic debut a year ago with a first-at-bat home run and a no-hitter from the mound, had a strong day Saturday as well, going 2-for-5 at the plate with a pair of runs scored, and earning the pitching win in game two with a six-hit, seven-strikeout performance.
Game 1: Chowan 11, Barton 1 (5 inn.)
Blake's home run, just two batters into the game, gave Barton a brief 1-0 lead in the opener. However, the Lady Bulldogs collected just three more hits in the contest off Chowan sophomore Shannon Buchanan, who walked just one and struck out four in the five-inning complete-game win.
Chowan moved in front with a three-run second inning, produced on three hits and a BC error. The Hawks put the game away with an eight-run outburst in the fourth fueled by five hits and two more Barton miscues.
Junior Hannah Jones suffered the pitching loss after scattering nine hits, walking two and striking out one. She was charged with all the runs scored, but just four of them were earned due to four BC errors in the contest.
Game 2: Barton 10, Chowan 3 (5 inn.)
Hearp doubled to lead off game two, moved to third on an infield single by Taylor Martin and scored on the double to left-center by Blake, who came home herself later in the inning on a passed ball.
Ashton Pegram and Hearp both drew walks to open the second inning, prompting Chowan to lift senior starter Shelby Griffis in favor of freshman Emarae Flores. Martin beat out another infield single to load the bases, and Blake then ripped a Flores offering over the fence in dead center field for the grand slam.
The homer was just the start of a big eight-run inning. Brittany Jacobs, Jessica Onega and Jones also had hits in the frame, with Jones collecting an RBI. The Hawks also hurt themselves with three errors in the inning.
Chowan chipped away with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, but the two sides mutually agreed to call the game in favor of the Bulldogs after five innings as darkness closed in on Hawks Softball Field.
Barton delivered 10 total hits in game two and also settled down defensively, making just one error in the nightcap.
Hearp scattered six hits and walked three while striking out seven over 3 2/3 innings. Makayla Meeks finished up for the Lady Bulldogs, giving up a run despite not allowing a hit. Meeks walked one and struck out one.
Barton will return to action on Sunday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Winston-Salem State University.