HICKORY, N.C. — The Lady Railsplitters were handcuffed offensively in game one’s 2-0 setback to the 18th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne University Bears on Saturday in Hickory, North Carolina, but bounced back for a 3-2 win in game two to earn the doubleheader split in South Atlantic Conference softball action.
Lincoln Memorial improves to 23-12 overall and 9-5 in SAC action, holding on to a share of third place in the league standings, while second-place Lenoir-Rhyne retained that spot while moving to 32-9 total and 10-4 in league play.
Lenoir-Rhyne’s Maryann Hoskins was nearly flawless in the circle for the Bears as she spun a complete-game three-hitter while fanning seven Lady Railsplitters, outdueling LMU’s Samantha Smith to improve to 16-5 on the season.
Smith was only slightly less effective for the Lady Railsplitters as she was left on the hook for the hard-luck loss despite scattering only six hits and one earned run with five strikeouts in six innings.
The Bears did every bit of their damage in the bottom of the second as Brittany Coursen doubled, Sarah Kenley was hit by a pitch and Lauren Elder singled to load the bases with one out. A fielder’s choice cut Coursen down at home, but a fielding error by LMU’s Payton Bruce at first on the attempted double play turn resulted in Kenley scoring. Dakota Keller added to the lead with an RBI single in the next at-bat.
Kelly Dreier’s one-out single in the top of the second represented LMU’s only hit and the second base runner through the first five frames, but the tying run would come to the plate for the Lady Railsplitters in both the sixth and seventh stanzas. Brianna Mulkey singled with two outs in the sixth, but Amanda Snow struck out to end the threat. Bruce led off the seventh with a single before Hoskins drew a ground out and back-to-back fly outs to polish off her gem.
Smith was called back into the circle for the Lady Railsplitters in game two and she delivered again, tossing a complete game while limiting the Bears to only one run on seven hits with four strikeouts. This time, Smith picked up the win to improve to 14-6 as Lincoln Memorial rallied from an early 1-0 deficit with some good fortune and one big swing.
The Bears stranded one runner in the first and two more in the second before breaking through in the third as Jody Mizelle provided L-R with its only run of the ballgame with a lead-off solo home run.
The Lady Railsplitters quickly erased that run in the top of the fourth as the Bears committed three errors that ultimately resulted in only one score. A pair of fielding errors along with a Mulkey single loaded the bases for Lincoln Memorial with one out, and the final blunder accounted for the game-tying run as Snow scored on a fielder’s choice that included a miscue by the Bears’ shortstop.
L-R stranded a runner in the fourth, while both teams went down in order in the fifth frame before the Lady Railsplitters catapulted into the driver’s seat in the sixth. Bruce laced a double into left-center in front of Snow, who launched a two-run home run over the right-field fence to shoot LMU in front, 3-1.
Smith was all business the rest of the way, putting the Bears down in 1-2-3 succession in the sixth and allowing only a two-out single to Keller in the seventh before forcing Mizelle to pop out to end the game.
The Lady Railsplitters were held to only four hits, but Snow’s two-run dinger was enough to carry Lincoln Memorial to victory lane.
Lincoln Memorial hits the road for a SAC doubleheader at Brevard beginning at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.