Patriots split key PBC twinbill with #12 Pirates

Patriots split key PBC twinbill with #12 Pirates

FLORENCE, SC – Senior right-handed Taylor Luff pitched a six-hitter and junior first baseman Ashley Burney hit a two-run homer as Francis Marion University beat 12th-ranked Armstrong Atlantic State University 3-2, Saturday afternoon (April 12) in Peach Belt Conference softball action.  Junior shortstop Alexis Mercer homered twice and drove in five runs to lead the Pirates to a 10-1 victory in game two and a split of the doubleheader.

The key split moves Francis Marion to 9-11 in conference play (23-25 overall) and into a tie for sixth place in the PBC standings.  The top eight squads advance to the Peach Belt Tournament to be hosted by FMU next week (April 18-19).

FMU will close out its regular-season schedule on Sunday when the Patriots entertain Flagler College for Senior Day doubleheader at noon.  Francis Marion will recognize its five seniors in between games of the twinbill.

In Saturday's opener, Burney's two-run shot to left field in the first inning staked the Patriots to a 2-0 lead.  It was the Palatka, Fla., native's 11th longball of the season tying the FMU single-season record set by Heather Garrison in 2004.

Armstrong struck back with a solo homer by senior center fielder Andrea Dalton in the top of the second, slicing the FMU advantage in half.

The Patriots added an insurance run in the fourth when junior third baseman Shelby Mathews drilled an RBI double off the top of the right centerfield fence, just missing a three-run homer by inches.

That drive proved important as the Pirates plated a single run in the sixth – a run-scoring double to left by Dalton – to again trim the margin to one at 3-2.

In the top of the seventh, Armstrong loaded the bases with one out on a walk and two singles.  Luff then fanned Lacye Walker for the second out and got Hannah Reppert to foul out to Megan Smith along the right field line to end the game.  Both Walker and Reppert entered the doubleheader with double-figure home run totals for the season.

Luff (13-13) struck out nine and walked three. She improved upon her FMU single-season strikeout record total, now at 268.  That total also currently ranks second in NCAA Division II for the 2014 season.

Mathews finished the opener 2-for-3, while Burney and Smith recorded the Patriots' only other hits.

Dalton and second baseman Kat Vogler were both 2-for-3 for the Pirates.  Righty Ollivia McLemore (17-5) took the loss as she struck out seven and walked five.

In the second contest, Mercer hit a three-run homer in the second and a two-run shot in the sixth. She was 3-for-3 and scored three times.  Vogler had two hits and drove in three runs in game two.

FMU plated its lone run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI grounder by sophomore catcher Taylor Barrineau.  Senior designated player Lindsey Brown went 2-for-2 with a double, while Mathews was 1-for-3.

Junior right-hander Katie Carnes (10-12) was the losing pitcher, although she did pick up a hit at the plate.  Armstrong freshman Tori Bates (1-0) earned the win.

Prior to Saturday's contests, FMU honored the Wounded Warrior Project with Asheville veteran Josie Drewes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Francis Marion Univ. 3, #12 Armstrong Atlantic 2 (Apr 12, 2014 at Florence, SC) (Game 1)
Armstrong Atlantic.. 010 001 0 -  2  6  0      (26-11, 11-6 PBC)
Francis Marion Univ. 200 100 X -  3  4  0      (23-24, 9-10 PBC)
Pitchers: Armstrong Atlantic - Ollivia McLemore and Haley Ellis. Francis Marion Univ. -
Taylor Luff and Taylor Barrineau.
Win-Taylor Luff(13-13)  Loss-Ollivia McLemore(17-5)  T-2:06  A-503
HR ARMSTRNG - Andrea Dalton (8).
HR FMU - Ashley Burney (11).
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 80, SSW @ 6 mph


#12 Armstrong Atlantic 10, Francis Marion Univ. 1 (Apr 12, 2014 at Florence, SC) (Game 2)
Armstrong Atlantic.. 040 024  - 10  8  1      (27-11, 12-6 PBC)
Francis Marion Univ. 000 001  -  1  4  1      (23-25, 9-11 PBC)
Pitchers: Armstrong Atlantic - Tori Bates; Jane Trzaska(6) and Haley Ellis; Bethany Ballard.
Francis Marion Univ. - Katie Carnes; Baily Garin(6) and Taylor Barrineau.
Win-Tori Bates(1-0)  Loss-Katie Carnes(10-12)  T-2:01  A-0
HR ARMSTRNG - Alexis Mercer 2 (19).
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 82,NE @ 15 mph