by Benny Benton
DUE WEST, S.C. – The Barton College softball team struggled to find its offense against Conference Carolinas leader Erskine College on Saturday, managing just five total hits in a pair of losses to the Flying Fleet.
Two Erskine pitchers, Morgan Hendrix and Hannah Houge, combined on a four-hitter in the opener as the Fleet downed Barton, 12-3, in six innings. In the nightcap, BC freshman Hayley Grizzle broke up Samantha Schmidt's no-hitter with two outs in the seventh inning of a 2-0 EC victory.
Sophomore Sierra Hearp drove in all three runs in game one, and Grizzle had a hit in game one as well as the only hit of game two.
With the sweep, Erskine moved to 15-11 overall and 8-0 in Conference Carolinas, while Barton fell to 15-19 overall and 3-7 in league play.
Game 1 – Erskine 12, Barton 3 (6 inn.)
Barton actually led early in game one, taking a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first. Grizzle delivered a two-out double to right-center and Jordan Blake walked before Hearp ripped an 0-2 pitch from Hendrix into the gap in right-center, driving in both runners.
The Fleet got a run back in the bottom of the frame when Brittany Rhinehardt led off the inning with a bunt single, moved to second on a sacrifice, and scored on a two-out double by Reagan Davis.
Erskine moved in front for good in the second inning when Barton starter Hannah Jones (6-7) issued three straight bases-loaded walks. The Fleet also scored on a sacrifice fly, pushing its lead to 5-2.
Hearp produced a solo home run, her fourth of the season, in her next at-bat to trim Barton's deficit to 5-3 in the fourth. The Lady Bulldogs used a walk and Taylor Freeman single to put two more runners on base in the inning, but reliever Houge got a groundout to end the threat.
Barton reliever Makayla Meeks kept the Fleet off the board for two innings to keep the Lady Bulldogs close, but in the sixth Erskine put the game away with seven runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batsman.
Game 2 – Erskine 2, Barton 0
Erskine scored the only run it would ultimately need early in the first inning, as Rhinehardt led off with a single up the middle, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a double to left-center by Sydney Smith.
The Fleet added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth, as Julia Cole was hit by a pitch from Crosby, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out, pinch-hit double by Taylor Lawhon.
However, the run was unnecessary, as Schmidt (4-1) dominated the Lady Bulldogs.
Schmidt took a perfect game into the fifth inning, when Hannah Jones reached base with two outs on an error by the third baseman.
The no-hitter continued into the seventh. Schmidt, a sophomore from Asheville, N.C., produced two quick outs in the seventh and got within one strike of the third out, but Grizzle drilled a 3-2 pitch into right field for a clean single to break up the no-hit bid.
Schmidt did not walk a batter and struck out three in the win.
Crosby (2-4) also turned in a complete-game effort for Barton, her second of the season. The junior scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out two in the loss.
Barton will return home to host Chowan University in a non-conference doubleheader on Thursday beginning at 1 p.m.