Barton splits league openers at Belmont Abbey

by Kevin Buczek

BELMONT, N.C.-Freshman designated hitter Lindsey Sharpe hit a two-run homer and freshman starter Ashlyn Reagan made it hold up as the Barton College softball team defeated host Belmont Abbey College, 2-1, in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.

The Crusaders won the first game, 8-0, in six innings on the strength of a 3-hit shutout by sophomore Samantha Jacobs.

Barton is 4-8 overall and begins league play at 1-1.  The Abbey is 5-15 on the season and 3-1 in conference skirmishes.

Sharpe hit her second home run over the center field fence at Crusader Field in the top of the third. Senior center fielder Alex Baylis led off the frame with a walk before scoring on Sharpe's blast.

Barton only had three hits in each contest with six different Lady Bulldogs accounting for the half dozen base knocks. Sharpe's homer was the only extra-base hit.

Reagan held the Crusaders to three hits as well. Belmont Abbey mustered one run off Reagan in the fifth and had a chance to do more damage with two runners in scoring position but the righty wiggled out of the jam with one of her five Ks. Reagan (2-3) only issued two walks en route to her fourth complete game.

The Lady Bulldogs had a couple chances to tack on some insurance runs in the late innings but were unable to string together consecutive hits. A walk by senior Kendra Kassonie and a single by sophomore Rachel Jordan had Barton threatening in the sixth and a single by junior Betsy Braswell followed by another Baylis walk put two more Lady Bulldogs on base in the seventh.

All three Abbey hits off Sharpe were just singles.

In the opener, Belmont Abbey scored in four of six innings for the run-rule triumph. 

Jacobs (3-8), who is averaging over one strikeout per inning, recorded 10 of 18 outs by strikeout in notching the shutout.

Barton had a runner in scoring position twice off Jacobs. Senior Amber Weaver led off the second with a single and was moved over on a sac bunt by Jordan but Jacobs answered with two straight strikeouts. Jacobs went on to retire nine consecutive batters before freshman Taylor Bowden ripped a single into the right field gap. Kassonie pushed her over to second with a two-out single but Jacobs then induced an inning ending groundball.  

Junior Shanie McConnell highlighted a three-run second inning for the Crusaders with a single to left-center that plated a pair of runs. Belmont Abbey added a run in the third without the benefit of a hit before pulling away with three more runs in the fifth. Senior Kinsey McClure had an RBI double and classmate Brooke Baliles drove in the next two runs with a single. Sophomore Kaitlyn Jones ended the game with a run-producing double in the bottom of the sixth.

Belmont Abbey collected 11 total hits in the opener with eight different Crusaders hitting safely.

Barton visits league foe Limestone College on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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