Patriots hold off Chargers for 5-1 victory

FLORENCE, SC – Freshman shortstop Taylor Johnson collected a pair of hits and drove in the first run of the game and helped push Francis Marion University to a 5-1 victory against Hillsdale College, Friday evening (Feb. 19) in a non-conference softball matchup.

Senior right-hander Shelby Kelley (4-1) tossed five shutout innings as FMU ran its winning streak to seven games.

Francis Marion improves to 7-2 overall and will entertain Mercy College (0-2) on Saturday at 11 a.m. The second day of the four-team round-robin tournament will also see Hillsdale take on Fairmont State University at 1 p.m. and then Mercy at 5 p.m. The Patriots will square-off against Fairmont State at 3 p.m.

The Patriots, who would play as the visiting team on their own field, quickly adjusted to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Johnson, who finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate delivered a double down the left field line to score senior first baseman Shannon Lopez.

The first four batters in the FMU lineup combined to go 8-for-15 at the plate with three RBIs and three runs scored.

Hillsdale (1-1) was led by senior shortstop Sarah Grunert who went 1-for-4 with one run batted in. Sophomore catcher Kelsey Gockman went 2-for-3 at the dish and senior pitcher Sarah Klopfer (0-1) suffered her first loss of the season. Klopfer went the distance for the Chargers, tossing seven innings while allowing 13 hits and striking out one.

Kelley would keep things under control inside of the pitcher circle for the Patriots, scattering three hits and striking out three Chargers. Sophomore righty Samantha Wroblewski pitched the final two innings en route to picking up her first save of the season. Wroblewski relieved Kelley with the potential tying runs on base and no outs in the sixth, but quickly retired the side with no runs scoring.

Freshman catcher Chelsea Welty extended her hitting streak to nine games for the Patriots, going 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of runs batted in. Welty pushed the Patriots lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning with a double into the left-center field gap, scoring sophomore Tori Gaskins in the process.

Junior center fielder Mikala Barnhart jump-started the scoring in a three-run seventh frame with a single down the left field line that would be misplayed by the Chargers, allowing the Patriots to take a 3-0 lead. After a single through the left side by Welty plated a run to make it 4-0, Lopez laced a RBI-double into right-center field.

The Chargers did find their way onto the scoreboard in the final frame against Wroblewski and the Patriots. Grunert drove a pitch into the right-center field gap for a double to score freshman pinch runner Carly Gouge from first base. Wroblewski would record the final out of the game on a shallow fly ball to center field, stranding a runner on second base.

Francis Marion Univ. 5, Hillsdale College 1 (Feb 19, 2016 at Florence, SC)
Francis Marion Univ. 010 010 3 -  5 13  3      (7-2)
Hillsdale College...    000 000 1 -  1  4  2      (1-1)
Pitchers: Francis Marion Univ. - Shelby Kelley; Samantha Wroblewski(6) and Chelsea Welty.
Hillsdale College - Sarah Klopfer and Cassie Asselta.
Win-Shelby Kelley(4-1)  Save-Samantha Wroblewski(1)  Loss-Sarah Klopfer(0-1)  T-1:49  A-77
Weather: Clear, 56, Winds SSE @ 9 mph
Kelley faced 2 batters in the 6th.