HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- Kim Coley (Marion, N.C.) launched a leadoff home run in the fifth, and Meagan Knowles (West Palm Beach, Fla.) added a two-run shot later in the inning to propel the fifth-seeded Lees-McRae College softball team (26-26) into Sunday's championship series of the Conference Carolinas Tournament with a 3-1 win over fourth-seeded Queens University of Charlotte (20-19).
Coley paced the Bobcats with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, launching her fourth home run of the season to break the deadlock. Knowles added the Bobcats' third hit of the ball game with her second long ball of the season to provide LMC starter Laurel Gregg (Mars Hill, N.C.) with all the run support she would need, as the sophomore surrendered one run on two hits in a complete-game effort to earn the victory.
Keeya Turner tallied each of Queens' two hits, while also scoring the Royals' lone run of the day. Chantel Dodge pitched the full seven innings for the Royals, allowing three runs on three hits while striking out five.
The game remained scoreless through the first three innings of play on Saturday before the contest was suspended due to rain. Lees-McRae struck first after play resumed on Sunday morning, taking a 1-0 lead on Coley's leadoff home run in the fifth. After the Royals recorded a pair of quick outs, and Lori Fulmer (Prosperity, S.C.) reached on a fielder's choice, Knowles delivered in the clutch, launching a two-out, two-run home run to left to give the Bobcats a 3-0 advantage.
Lees-McRae kept Queens off the scoreboard until the home half of the sixth, when Turner stroked a leadoff single and advanced to second on a walk by Kaitlyn Cheek. Turner then stole third and scored on a double play ball to cut the margin to 3-1. Gregg then retired the final batter of the inning to quell the rally.
After Queens retired the side in the seventh, the Royals' Emma Schultz drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second when Brandy Jester reached base on a hit-by-pitch. Gregg responded, striking out the next three batters to shut the door and propel the Bobcats into the championship game.
Lees-McRae returns to the diamond on Sunday afternoon when the Bobcats take on second-seeded Erskine College in the championship game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament at 12 p.m.
- LMC -