HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Lady Railsplitters broke out the brooms in a two-game season-opening sweep of the Milligan College Buffaloes in non-conference softball action on Wednesday at Lincoln Memorial University’s Dorothy Neely Field. LMU took the first game by a score of 1-0 before rolling to a 6-2 victory in six innings in game two. Game two was cut an inning short due to extreme winter weather conditions, which wreaked havoc in Harrogate throughout the afternoon.
Lincoln Memorial (2-0) extended its current winning streak against Milligan (0-2) to eight games with the two wins on Wednesday. The Lady Railsplitters have now swept their home-opening doubleheaders in five-straight seasons.
Sophomore Samantha Smith tossed a complete-game gem in the first game, allowing only one hit and striking out two in seven innings of work, to lead the Lady Railsplitters to a 1-0 win.
Smith (1-0), sat the side down in order in four of her seven innings. She did struggle with her command early in the contest, walking two batters and hitting another in the top of the second to load the bases for the Buffaloes. However, she pitched her way out of that jam by inducing a ground out to prevent an early run from crossing the plate.
Smith carried a no-hit bid into the top of the sixth, but the Buffaloes broke through in that inning when Natalie Sheffey laced a one-out single to right center. Milligan would fail to take advantage of that opportunity, as a sacrifice bunt and a ground out killed the threat.
The Lady Railsplitters pushed their only run of the game across in the bottom of the first, as Kirstin Toole doubled home Laura Taricano, who led off with a one-out single.
On the other end of game one’s pitching duel, Milligan starter Chancli Connatser (0-1) also went the distance on the rubber, allowing five hits and one run while striking out four in six innings.
Along with Taricano and Toole’s first-inning hits, senior Brianna Mulkey went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles, and freshman Payton Bruce collected the first hit of her collegiate career with a single in the home half of the fourth.
Game two saw junior Amanda Snow drive in two runs and score two, while Toole threw a complete game to pace a 6-2 snow-shortened victory for the Lady Railsplitters.
Toole (1-0) surrendered a run to the Buffaloes in the top of the first on a Natalie Sheffey RBI-double, but she settled down and allowed only three hits and one run combined over her next five innings of work. The De Bary, Florida native finished with two strikeouts on the six-inning stat ledger to collect her first win of the season.
The Lady Railsplitters were kept at bay in the home half of the first before scoring in each of the next four innings. Snow was issued a walk to lead off the bottom of the second, and she came around to score on a throwing error by the Milligan pitcher, tying the game at 1-1. Another miscue helped the Lady Railsplitters take the lead in the third, as Taricano was hit by a pitch in the first at-bat of the inning and advanced to home on a wild pitch three batters later. Emilee Solomon’s RBI-double in the bottom of the fourth plated an insurance run for Lincoln Memorial.
Leading 3-1, the Lady Railsplitters broke the game open with a three-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth. Snow was the catalyst for the rally, picking up her first hit of the season by ripping a two-run double past the center fielder. Jaclyn Cokeroft added fuel to the fire with an RBI-single with two outs in the frame.
The Buffaloes scrounged for a run in the sixth on a sacrifice bunt by Samantha Lilley, but Toole closed off the inning by forcing a ground out in the next at-bat.
Milligan used three different pitchers in the second game, and starter Jessica Goodson (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing two hits and one earned run in three innings of work. Kimberly Robinson and Samantha Mahala also made one-inning relief appearances.
The Lady Railsplitters got one hit each from Solomon, Mulkey, Toole, Snow, Bruce and Cokeroft in the game.
Lincoln Memorial is set to travel to Columbus, Ga. this weekend for the Cougar Classic at Columbus State University. The Lady Railsplitters open that event on Saturday with games agaisnt King at noon and Belmont Abbey at 2:30 p.m.