BC softball swept by Lenoir-Rhyne, 7-3 and 5-4

by Benny Benton

HICKORY, N.C. – The Barton College softball team was swept in a doubleheader at Lenoir-Rhyne University on Saturday, falling 7-3 in the opener and 5-4 in a nine-inning second contest.

The Lady Bulldogs (1-3) gave up 20 hits to the Bears (8-3) over the doubleheader while producing just nine. Barton also left 11 runners on base in the first contest and committed eight errors in the nightcap.

Freshman Hayley Grizzle delivered her first collegiate home run in game one, and sophomore Sierra Hearp added her first of the season in game two. Hearp and Taylor Martin had hits in both contests.

Game 1: Lenoir-Rhyne 7, Barton 3

Hearp doubled to open the game and Martin followed with a single. Both scored two batters later on a single by Jessica Onega, giving the Lady Bulldogs a quick 2-0 lead.

The Bears got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning, as Erin Boone led off the frame with a single, stole second and scored two batters later on Madison Carter's single. However, Barton regained its two-run advantage in the top of the second when Grizzle homered to lead off the inning.

Lenoir-Rhyne moved in front with a three-run third inning off three hits. The Bears added three more runs in the fourth, again using three hits.

Barton only managed six hits in the game, and just three after freshman Kimberly Blair (1-0) took over pitching duties in the top of the first. The Lady Bulldogs did draw 11 walks in the contest, 10 of them issued by Blair, but could not get them home. BC left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings and stranded two in the seventh.

Junior Hannah Jones (0-2) took the pitching loss after giving up seven hits and six runs in 3 2/3 innings. Junior transfer Teagan Crosby, BC's third pitcher in the game, worked 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing three hits and a pair of walks.

Game 2: Lenoir-Rhyne 5, Barton 4 (9 inn.)

Just as it had done in game one, Barton took the early lead in the second contest, this time on a leadoff home run by Hearp.

The Bears quickly responded in the bottom of the inning, taking advantage of three BC errors to score a pair of runs, one on an RBI single by Talon LaClair.

After Jones reached base on an error to lead off the second, Lenoir-Rhyne pitcher Emily Kenley (4-1) retired the next 12 Barton batters in a row to keep BC off the board.

L-R, meanwhile, had a runner reach base by some method in each of the next four innings, but Hearp worked her way out of trouble each time, stranding seven runners over that span to keep the Bears from scoring.

Both teams broke the string of zeros in the sixth. Singles by Martin and Jordan Blake to lead off the Barton half of the inning were later followed by consecutive hit batsmen and a bases-loaded walk, forcing in a pair of runs that gave the Lady Bulldogs a 3-2 advantage.

The Bears tied the game in the bottom of the frame off Barton reliever Crosby (0-1), however, as Savannah Moorefield singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Boone and scored on a single to right by Madison Poe.

Lenoir-Rhyne had a chance to end the game in regulation after LaClair tripled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Crosby induced a lineout to third and grounder to second to end the threat and send the game to extra innings.

In the eighth, both teams scored the runner placed at second base under international tiebreaker rules. Barton's scored from third on a bunt by Onega, and L-R's on a throwing error by the pitcher after fielding a bunt.

In the ninth, Kenley struck out the Barton side, giving Lenoir-Rhyne the advantage. The Bears cashed in with an RBI single by LaClair, her third hit of the contest.

The Bears produced nine hits off Hearp and Crosby but just one earned run. Together, they struck out six batters and walked three. L-R's Kenley surrendered just three hits over the nine innings, allowed three earned runs, walked two and struck out five.

Barton continues its road trip with a pair of games at Catawba College on Sunday.