LMU, Anderson softball split to sit tied for second in SAC standings
HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Lincoln Memorial University softball team ripped off a six-run fifth inning in the first game to steal away the lead from Anderson University for the 6-3 win, while the Trojans and Kayla Pepper shut down the Lady Railsplitter offense in a game two 4-1 victory in a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader split at Dorothy Neely Field Wednesday.
During the opening game, the initial NCAA Division II Southeast Region rankings were released and had LMU included for the first time in program history at No. 2.
Coming into the doubleheader versus Anderson (28-18, 10-8 SAC), the Lady Railsplitters (32-12, 10-8) were tied with the Trojans, Newberry and Catawba, in first place. Now after the completion of Wednesday’s games — with just two more SAC games apiece — LMU and Anderson sit tied for second place, along with Queens, while Newberry has taken over sole possession of first place after a sweep of Catawba pushed the Indians into a tie for sixth with Carson-Newman.
The Lady Railsplitters are scheduled to travel to Catawba for a 1 p.m. doubleheader Saturday.
It took the Lady Railsplitters four innings to get going on offense in the first game, but when they did, it was all they needed.
LMU used a six-hit, six-run fifth frame to take a five-run lead — one the Trojans cut into with a run apiece in the sixth and seventh — which was one the home team would never surrender.
Allie Jones got the rally starting as she knocked a lead-off double, and then proceeded to score on Jacie Pittman’s RBI-single, which knotted the score at 1-all. A trio of hits — a Ty-Kella Goins and Sierra Hucklebee double each plus Kelsie Hocutt’s single — put the Lady Railsplitters in full command. Goins’ double scored the go-ahead run before she scored on Hucklebee’s second extra-base hit, and then the freshman rounded third on Hocutt’s single.
McKenzie Henry (2-for-3) put the icing on the cake as she belted a two-run home run — her 12th blast of the season — over the left-field wall on the first pitch, capping the six-run inning and ending the day for Harlie Duncan (L, 15-7).
In the Lady Railsplitters’ circle, Bailey Griffith (W, 12-7) tossed six innings, allowing just two earned runs on eight hits and four strikeouts before Faith Howe finished things off unblemished for a huge game one win.
The Trojans bounced back after getting shelled in the first game behind Pepper’s gem in the circle, where she limited the conference’s top offense to just one run on three hits. Goins’ 20th double of the year plus hits from Emma Webb and Grace Cochran were the lone Lady Railsplitters to connect against Pepper, while the only run came in the fifth inning when Henry scored on a wild pitch.
Anderson scattered seven hits, scoring all four runs off the long ball as Kayson Boatner hit the first two-run shot in the first frame and Breanna Hagerty blasted hers in the sixth. The surge in the sixth, after the Lady Railsplitters came within a run in the fifth, ended Justice Smith’s outing for just her second loss of the season (9-2). Again Howe, entered in relief, allowing just a hit to end the Trojans’ momentum, but Pepper didn’t wavier to secure her complete-game performance.