by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – Barton College and Southern Wesleyan traded outstanding pitching performances in a Conference Carolinas doubleheader on Saturday at Jeffries Field, with BC taking the opener, 3-1, behind a two-hitter from junior Hannah Jones, and SWU claiming the nightcap, 2-1, thanks to a four-hitter from senior Hunter Hoskins.
Sophomore Sierra Hearp went 3-for-6 in the twinbill and drove in all four of Barton's runs on the day, while freshman Megan New went 3-for-4 and drove in all three of the runs in the doubleheader for the Warriors.
With the split, Barton (19-25, 5-13) remained two games ahead of Southern Wesleyan (8-33, 3-13) in the win column as the two teams battle for the final qualifying spot in the upcoming league tournament.
Barton has two league games left against seventh-place University of Mount Olive on Wednesday, while SWU has four remaining – doubleheaders versus second-place Erskine College and third-place North Greenville University. The Lady Bulldogs could overtake the rival Trojans for the No. 7 spot and eliminate SWU from the race with a sweep at UMO.
Game 1 – Barton 3, Southern Wesleyan 1
Barton provided Jones with a 2-0 lead in the first inning after Hearp delivered a two-out single up the middle, driving in Jordan Blake, who had singled to begin the inning, and Jones, who had drawn a one-out walk.
The Lady Bulldogs added another run in the third inning off SWU starter Josie Edwards (0-9) when Taylor Martin singled to lead off the frame, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jones, advanced to third on a single by Samantha Santmyers and scored on a single through the right side by Hearp.
Jones (9-9) retired the first nine Southern Wesleyan batters she faced in order before Becca White broke up the perfect game with a single to left field to open the fourth inning. She continued facing the minimum number of batters through the frame, as Barton turned an inning-ending double play.
The Warriors broke up the shutout for Jones in the fifth when New doubled to left field, scoring pinch-runner Kassidy Hamrick all the way from first base. Hamrick had entered the game after Riley Herdliska drew a leadoff walk, the only free pass issued by Jones in the contest.
Jones struck out two batters to leave New stranded at second base in the fifth, then retired the next six batters in order to close out the win. The Huntersville, N.C., resident struck out eight batters and faced just two batters over the minimum.
It was her ninth complete-game effort of the year, and third in her last four outings. She has allowed two runs or less in each of those three contests.
Game 2 – Southern Wesleyan 2, Barton 1
Hoskins (8-19) exacted revenge against the Lady Bulldogs in the nightcap. The Charlotte, N.C., resident retired 14 straight Barton batters before freshman Taylor Freeman broke up the perfect game with a double over the bag at third base and down the left field line with two outs in the fifth.
SWU had given Hoskins a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Herdliska singled off BC starter Ashton Pegram (2-2) to open the inning, Makaila Irby doubled to left field, moving Herdliska to third, and both runners scored on a single up the middle by New.
However, the Lady Bulldogs continued to struggle offensively against Hoskins, who entered the seventh inning having only allowed the one hit to Freeman.
Martin opened the seventh with a bunt single but was thrown out trying to steal second. However, Jones drew a walk – the only one of the game issued by Hoskins – advanced to second on a single by Jessica Onega and scored on a single up the middle by Hearp.
Onega moved into scoring position at second base on the hit by Hearp and advanced to third on a groundout by Freeman. However, Hoskins got a one-hopper back to the circle to end the game and finish off her outstanding effort.
Barton's doubleheader at Mount Olive Wednesday is slated to begin at 5 p.m.