Bobcats battle to split with Belmont Abbey

BELMONT, N.C. --- Lindsey Huntsinger (Asheville, N.C.) went 3-for-5 from the plate with a home run and three walks to pace the Lees-McRae College softball team to a split with Belmont Abbey College on Saturday in Conference Carolinas play.

Belmont Abbey (11-19, 5-5 CC) battled back from a 5-0 deficit in game two to earn a walk-off victory after Lees-McRae (17-20, 5-3 CC) took the opener by a score of 4-1. The Crusaders earned the walk-off win on an RBI single to left field by Chelsea Elmore (Belmont, N.C.), which drove in Brooke Baliles (Belmont, N.C.) to earn the 6-5 victory in eight innings.

Paige Coleman (Thomasville, N.C.) and Karli Robb (Hayes, Va.) also homered for the Bobcats, while Lori Fulmer (Prosperity, S.C.) put together a 3-for-3 day at the dish with an RBI. Kim Coley (Marion, N.C.) and Kierstie Moon (Oxford, Ga.) each added a 4-for-8 effort on the day as well for Lees-McRae.

Game One: Lees-McRae 4, Belmont Abbey 1 (Box Score)

The Bobcats grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the first inning when Moon singled to left to lead off the contest, which was followed by a two-run blast to right center from Robb. The Crusaders responded in the bottom of the second, cutting the Bobcat advantage to 2-1 when Carol-Anne Sherrill (Huntersville, N.C.) scored on a throwing error.

Lees-McRae added two insurance runs in the top half of the fifth inning to extend the margin to 4-1. Magen West (Whitney, Texas) laced a pinch-hit single to left, driving in Huntsinger from third. Fulmer followed suit with a single down the left field line to drive in Coley and equal the final tally of 4-1.

Laurel Gregg (Mars Hill, N.C.) pitched a six inning gem to improve to 8-11 on the season. Gregg gave up one unearned run on three hits while recording five strikeouts to pace the Bobcats. Bryce Campbell (Amherst, Va.) tallied her fifth save on the season, retiring the side in the seventh inning to close out the contest.

Game Two: Belmont Abbey 6, Lees-McRae 5 - 8 innings (Box Score)

The second contest opened in similar fashion to the first, with Moon singling to left field to reach base before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Robb. Huntsinger followed, belting the ball over the left field fence for her tenth home run of the season to give the Bobcats the 2-0 advantage. The Bobcats added a third run in the top of the second when Fulmer scored on a Moon two-out single.

In the top of the third inning, Coley opened the frame with a double down the right field line. Following a lineout, Coley moved to third on a ground out by Campbell and scored on a single to right field by Jessica Smith (Gastonia, N.C.) to extend the lead to 4-0. Coleman added the fifth run in the top of the fifth inning with her sixth round-tripper of the season to give the Bobcats a 5-0 advantage.

The Crusaders rallied in the bottom of the inning to cut the Bobcat lead to 5-2. Sami Michaelis (Woodville, Ohio) scored the first, reaching on a single and stealing second. Emily Peek (Asheville, N.C.) reached via base-on-balls to put runners on first and second with no outs; Michaelis then moved to third on a wild pitch. Elmore then drove in MIchaelis on a grounder to short that retired Peek at second, before Sherrill followed with a double to right field to score Elmore for the second run of the inning.

The Crusaders added their third run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Lees-McRae lead to 5-3 before tying the contest with two runs in the bottom of the seventh, sending the contest into extra frames. Belmont Abbey then took advantage of the tie-break rule in the home half of the eighth inning to earn the walk-off victory.

The Bobcats return to the diamond on Sunday, hosting a doubleheader with Coker College in Conference play. Action gets under way at 2 p.m. on Bobcat Field in Banner Elk.

-LMC-