by Benny Benton
DUNCAN, S.C. – The Barton College softball team dropped a pair of games in its first day of competition at the Mid-South Classic on Saturday, falling to Augusta University, 4-0, and UNC Pembroke, 4-3.
Finding offense proved difficult for the Lady Bulldogs (5-7) against the two Peach Belt Conference programs. Barton produced five hits while being shut out by Augusta (4-9), and managed just two hits through the first five innings of the loss to UNCP (10-6).
BC finally warmed up in the sixth inning of the game against the Braves, using singles from Hannah Jones and Brittany Jacobs to set the table for sophomore Sierra Hearp, who ripped a three-run homer to center to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Taylor Freeman singled with two outs in the seventh and reached scoring position as the tying run following a walk to Ashton Pegram, but Malerie Leviner got a groundout to end the game and earn her first save of the year for the Braves.
Barton will continue play in the tournament tomorrow with games against Tiffin University at 9 a.m. and UNCP again at 11 a.m.
Game 1 – Augusta 4, Barton 0
Marni Greenstein tripled in the third inning and scored on a Carolyn Edwards single to give Augusta a 1-0 lead. The two repeated the process in the seventh, as Greenstein again tripled and came home on an Edwards single. Two batters after Edwards' second hit, Cassie Blizzard ripped her first home run of the season, putting hopes of a Barton rally on ice.
Five different Barton players produced one hit each off Augusta pitcher Morgan Hunter (3-4), who did not walk a batter and struck out four.
Two of those five hits came in the fourth inning, when Jacobs and Pegram singled. Both reached scoring position, but Hunter escaped the inning by inducing a line drive to third base that turned into a double play.
Game 2 – UNC Pembroke 4, Barton 3
UNCP used a leadoff double by Alex Watkins, a single by Tatum Brummitt and then a sacrifice bunt by Toni Nelson to get on the board in the second inning.
The Braves added back-to-back doubles by Cara Davis and Jamie Johnson off Hearp (2-2) to begin the third inning, and yet another double by Brummitt later in the frame to produce a 3-0 advantage.
Johnson doubled again off BC reliever Makayla Meeks in the fifth and scored on a single by Watkins, increasing the UNCP lead to 4-0.
That seemed to be enough behind the pitching of starter Breezy Yelton (6-1), who only gave up a first-inning single to Pegram and second-inning double to Hayley Grizzle over the first 5 2/3 innings.
However, Jones started a two-out rally in the sixth with a single through the left side, Jacobs followed with an infield single to third base, and Hearp cleared the bases with the home run blast to center, her second of the season.
Barton threatened again in the seventh after the Freeman single and Pegram walk, but Leviner stepped to the mound to produce the third out and end the game.
Yelton issued three hits and struck four in her 6 2/3 innings of work.
Meeks, who pitched four innings of relief for Barton, gave up one run and three hits, did not walk a batter or strike anyone out.