Photo Courtesy of Matt Jones
BURLINGTON, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College softball team defeated Southern Wesleyan by a score of 3-1 in its only game on day two of the Conference Carolinas Softball Tournament Saturday afternoon in Burlington, North Carolina. With the victory, the Bobcats will advance to the final day of the conference tournament for just the second time in the program's history on Sunday.
There wasn't a ton offense in Saturday's contest as both pitching staffs kept the opposing offenses off balance. The Bobcats scored all the runs they would need in the bottom of the second. Katelyn Wyatt and Mallory Myers got things started with singles before Sarah Beth Thomas came through with a huge two-out two-run triple to score both Wyatt and Myers. Thomas would then come in to score a batter later as an error by SWU pushed across Lees-McRae's third run.
Southern Wesleyan looked like it could tie the game or even pull ahead in the fifth. The Warriors got a leadoff single from Ashton Martin. Martin was subbed out for a pinch runner, Emma Collins, who promptly stole a pair of bases. Megan New delivered a pinch hit RBI single to plate Collins, which was followed by another single by Grace McGuffin that pushed New to third. With the game-tying run in scoring position, Lees-McRae pitcher Kara Cunningham got Taylor Le to ground into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
Wyatt posted the only multi-hit day for the Bobcat offense going 2-for-3. Julie Gast, Noel Cassidy, Emily Merriam accounted for the other three hits for Lees-McRae on the day on top of the two from Myers and Thomas mentioned earlier.
Cunningham picked up her 13th victory of the season with Saturday's win. Cunningham allowed just one run on three hits to go along with seven strikeouts in seven innings of work. Furthermore, the win is Cunningham's 40th of her career at Lees-McRae making her the new all-time wins leader for Lees-McRae softball.
The Bobcats will have to wait and see on their opponent for Sunday's championship final. Lees-McRae will take on either No. 2 seed King, No. 6 seed Southern Wesleyan or No. 8 seed Limestone in the contest. By virtue of their 3-0 record in the tournament so far, the Bobcats will need to win just once on Sunday to capture their first conference championship in program history and their first trip to the NCAA Tournament. On the flip side, Lees-McRae's opponent will have to defeat the Bobcats twice to take home the title. First pitch for Sunday is set for noon from Springwood Park in Burlington with second game to follow if necessary.