by Benny Benton
BURLINGTON, N.C. – The 2018 season ended for the Barton College softball team on Friday following a pair of losses on day one of the Conference Carolinas Championship at Springwood Park.
The Lady Bulldogs, seeded eighth, fell to top seed and regular-season champion Limestone College, 3-1, in their tourney opener, then dropped a 6-2 decision to No. 6 seed Belmont Abbey College in a loser's bracket matchup to end their year at 23-29.
Junior Hannah Jones had three hits in five at-bats over the two games and also limited Limestone to five hits while suffering the game one pitching loss.
Game 1 – Limestone 3, Barton 1
The Saints (32-11) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a two-run homer by Mary Hart, her first of the season.
Nohealani Burden followed with a single to left, moving Onega to third, but Limestone's Courtney Smith, the league's pitcher of the year, got a pop-up to short to end the inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, the No. 8 hitter in the Limestone order, Kat Tate, was hit by a pitch, and No. 9 hitter Tessa Faucette followed with a double to left-center, driving in a run to push the margin back to two runs at 3-1.
From there, Smith (20-2) slammed the door on the Lady Bulldogs, allowing just one more hit. Smith allowed five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six in the victory.
Jones (10-11) walked two and struck out two while giving up the five hits in her 11th complete game of the season.
Game 2 – Belmont Abbey 6, Barton 2
Belmont Abbey starter Annabeth Watkins (9-13) surrendered just two hits to the Lady Bulldogs over six scoreless innings, walking one and striking out one.
The Crusaders staked her to a 1-0 lead in the third using a leadoff double by Elena Duran and a two-out single by Melissa Neyhouse.
In the fifth, BAC produced a walk and consecutive singles to score a run and end the day for Barton starter Makayla Meeks (2-4). Neyhouse greeted reliever Teagan Crosby with a bases-clearing double to left-center, and later scored an unearned run herself on an infield single, increasing the Crusaders' lead to 6-0.
Barton scored its only runs off BAC reliever Chace Helms in the seventh. An error to lead off the inning and a single by Jordan Blake set the table for an RBI groundout by Samantha Santmyers and an RBI single by Taylor Freeman.
Jones had two of the four Barton hits in the contest and also reached on a walk.
Barton reached the league tournament for the fifth straight year, slipping into the final qualifying spot after a 5-15 conference slate. The Lady Bulldogs opened the championship against No. 1 Limestone for the fourth season in a row.