by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College softball team suffered a pair of non-conference losses to Francis Marion University on Thursday, one lopsided and one heartbreaking.
The Lady Bulldogs (7-13) dropped the opener in just five innings, 9-0, but held the advantage for most of game two and rallied three times after giving up the lead before finally falling in 10 innings, 12-10.
Barton managed just two hits in game one off Francis Marion pitcher Sydney Holland, who struck out three in the shutout for the Patriots (11-11).
Game 2 – Francis Marion 12, Barton 10 (10 inn.)
Barton took a 3-0 lead in game two in the third inning after singles by Jones and Kelsey Carroll set the stage for an RBI single by Onega and two-run double by Jacobs off FMU starter Samantha Wroblewski. BC starter Makayla Meeks, meanwhile, tossed three scoreless innings, limiting the Patriots to just two hits.
Francis Marion got on the board with a run in the fourth on a two-out double by Jaimie Harney and an RBI single by Shania Domingue. The Patriots moved in front an inning later when they produced four runs on four hits off Meeks, the big ones a two-run homer by Jessica Harney and a two-run triple by Jaimie Harney.
The Lady Bulldogs got one run back in the bottom of the fifth when Carroll reached second on an error, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hayley Grizzle and scored on a single to right by Onega.
The score remained 5-4 until the bottom of the seventh, when Jones delivered a leadoff single up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Carroll and scored the tying run on a single to right by Grizzle, sending the contest into the tiebreaker.
Barton's rally seemed to have been for naught when Francis Marion banged out four hits off BC reliever Ashton Pegram to take an 8-5 advantage in the eighth. However, the Lady Bulldogs showed their tenacity in the bottom of the inning, scoring three times as well and putting themselves in position to win the game.
Taylor Martin led off the BC eighth with a single to right, driving in the tiebreaker runner from second. Martin advanced to second on the throw home, and then scored herself when Jordan Blake doubled to left-center. Two batters later, Burden singled to right, driving in Blake with the game-tying run.
Burden reached third on the play after an error in right, but did not advance on a bunt single by Jones and was then stranded there after FMU reliever Holland (7-6) recorded a strikeout and groundout to end the inning.
Both teams scored their tiebreaker runners in the ninth, FMU on a passed ball and a bunt single by Sam Chiudina, and Barton on a sacrifice bunt by Onega and single up the middle by Jacobs.
In the tenth, BC reliever Jordan Blake (1-1) recorded two quick outs, but the Patriots got a clutch single from Jennie Polak to drive in the tiebreak runner. Karson Parker followed with a single, and Taylor Johnson delivered a decisive blow with a two-run triple to right.
Barton attempted to rally for the fourth time in the bottom of the 10th. Burden drove in the tiebreak runner with a grounder that was thrown away by the pitcher, then stole second to reach scoring position. However, Holland coaxed consecutive groundouts from the Lady Bulldogs to end the nearly three-hour game and collect her second win of the day.
Game 1 – Francis Marion 9, Barton 0 (5 inn.)
Holland had a much easier time getting the win in game one. The sophomore gave up a single to Sierra Hearp to lead off the Barton first, then retired 13 straight batters before allowing her only other hit of the contest, a single to right by Pegram. Holland did not walk a batter while striking out three in the five-inning complete-game victory.
Barton helped FMU gain all the run support it would need for Holland in the top of the first, committing two errors that led to two unearned runs for the Patriots.
Francis Marion added three more runs in the second inning when Parker singled through the right side, Johnson walked and Jessica Harney slammed a pitch from Jones (2-5) off the scoreboard in right field for her first homer of the day and sixth of the season.
The Patriots brought the eight-run rule into effect by tacking on four more runs in the fourth on three hits, including an RBI double by Chiudina and a bases-loaded double by Dominigue.
Barton will travel to Cary, N.C., to compete in the Shaw University Challenge beginning Friday with single games against Elizabeth City State University at 10 a.m. and Lincoln (Pa.) University at 12:30 p.m.