by Benny Benton
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton College softball team gave itself important momentum for this week's Conference Carolinas Championship by completing a 4-0 weekend on Sunday with a doubleheader sweep of St. Andrews University, 9-4 and 3-1.
Freshman Hayley Grizzle went 4-for-7 with four RBI and three stolen bases in the twinbill, and fellow freshman Jordan Blake also went 4-for-7 with three doubles and three runs scored. Both players extended hitting streaks to six games.
Cassie Fortner went 3-for-4 in the opener for St. Andrews (18-30).
Game 1 – Barton 9, St. Andrews 4
The two sides traded the lead back and forth early in game one. The Knights took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI double by Lexi Dawson, but BC scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the frame on a sacrifice fly by Brittany Jacobs and an RBI single by Jessica Onega.
St. Andrews moved back in front, 3-2, in the third, scoring one run on a booted grounder and another on a squeeze bunt. However, Barton tied the game at 3-all in the bottom of the inning on a triple by Sierra Hearp and RBI single by Grizzle, then took the lead for good in the fourth.
Taylor Freeman opened the BC fourth with a leadoff triple to left, and scored on a bunt single by Kelsey Carroll, putting the Lady Bulldogs back in front, 4-3. Carroll advanced to second on the play after a throwing error, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Makayla Meeks, and came home on a groundout by Hannah Jones to increase Barton's lead to 5-3.
Singles by Hearp and Grizzle in the fifth, a pair of stolen bases and an Alison Montague single plated one run, and Grizzle stole home to give the Lady Bulldogs another run and a 7-3 cushion. Barton tacked on two more runs in the sixth, one on Grizzle's second RBI of the day.
St. Andrews scored a late run in the seventh on an RBI triple by Fortner, but Crosby (3-5) finished off her third complete-game of the season by getting a grounder to short. Crosby gave up six hits and three earned runs over the seven innings while walking three and striking out five.
Game 2 – Barton 3, St. Andrews 1
Pegram (3-2) gave up just five hits in her five shutout innings, and those hits were spread out evenly, one in each inning. Only two runners reached scoring position while she was in the circle. Pegram walked one and struck out two.
S.K. Brown (4-15), the starter and losing pitcher in game one, returned to the circle to begin game two and tossed four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits. Brown worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by getting a fly ball to left field to end the inning.
Brown nearly escaped again in the fifth after Fortner, the Knights' center fielder, gunned down Taylor Martin at the plate for the second out of the inning. Martin, who had reached on an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch, was trying to score from there on a single by Hearp.
However, the throw home allowed Hearp to advance into scoring position at second base, and Blake ripped a double into the left field corner to drive her in with the game's first run. After Jacobs drew a walk from Brown, Grizzle singled to left, driving in both runners to increase Barton's lead to 3-0.
Meeks took over pitching duties for Pegram in the sixth, and St. Andrews quickly took advantage of the change, using a one-out walk, a single by Lily Pinto and an RBI groundout by Brennan Broadaway to register its first run of the game.
Pinto reached third base on a wild pitch, but Meeks recorded a strikeout to end the inning, then overcame a one-out BC error in the seventh to finish off the victory and earn her first save of the year.
Martin had three of Barton's seven hits in the game and Blake added two. Six St. Andrews players had one hit each.
Barton will begin play in the 2018 Conference Carolinas Women's Softball Championship on Friday at 1 p.m. in Burlington, N.C., against the No. 1 seed. That team has not yet been determined, as Limestone College and Erskine College will battle for the top spot and the league's regular-season title on Monday.