Patriots split rainy twin bill with Crusaders

Patriots split rainy twin bill with Crusaders

FLORENCE, SC – Senior catcher Chelsea Welty drilled a two-out run-scoring double to break a scoreless tie and Francis Marion University went on to a 3-0 win over Belmont Abbey College, Wednesday evening (March 20) in the opening game of a non-conference softball doubleheader.  Belmont Abbey won the rain-shortened second game 2-1.

Francis Marion (18-11) will host its annual Youth Day twin bill on Thursday when Barton College comes to the Griffin Athletic Complex for a 4 p.m. doubleheader.  All youth wearing their team jerseys will be admitted free, and there will be an autograph session after the second game.

Sophomore right-hander Katelyn Ellard (12-4) tossed a five-hitter in game one.  She registered her 13th complete game of the year and her fifth double-digit strikeout effort of the season as she fanned 10 and issued no walks.

After leaving runners in scoring position for each of the first four frames, Welty finally gave FMU a 1-0 advantage with her double to left centerfield that scored senior third baseman Angela Buccilli. The ball, driven to the warning track, nicked off the end of the glove of the lunging Crusader left fielder.

The Patriots plated a pair of insurance runs in the sixth when freshman designated player Addie May and sophomore center fielder Taylor DeLeon recorded RBI singles back up the middle.

Belmont Abbey (12-12) left runners in scoring position in each of the final six innings.  The Crusaders put runners on first and third with no outs in the seventh, but Ellard retired the next three batters on a fly out, a strikeout, and a pop up.

May and DeLeon each had two hits to accounted for four of FMU's five hits.

Junior righty Annabeth Watkins (7-5) took the loss.

In the second contest, Belmont Abbey scored twice in the top of the first off FMU freshman starter Janecia Hemingway (5-4). Crusader shortstop Melissa Neyhouse brought home the first run with a safety squeeze RBI bunt single in front of home plate.  Third baseman Morgan Smith plated Neyhouse with a ringing double to right center.

FMU was held hitless by Crusader sophomore Ivorie Maltby (3-5) the first time through the line-up.  Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, senior second baseman Jaimie Harney singled with one out.  Freshman right fielder Danielle Karacson followed with a double on the left field line caulk and Harney came all the way around to score when the relay throw home sailed over the catcher's head.

The Patriots left runners in scoring position in each of their last four frames.

The game was called with the Patriots coming to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning.  A hard rain began to fall muddying the already soaked field.

Karacson had a pair of hits in the second game, while DeLeon added another hit in the second contest.

Hemingway retired nine consecutive batters after allowing the first-inning tallies.  She posted a career-high five strikeouts before being replaced by Ellard with two outs and two on in the fifth.  Ellard retired seven of the eight batters she faced.

Neyhouse had two hits for the Crusaders in game two, while Malty registered her second complete game of the season.


Post-game comments from FMU head coach Stacey Vallee


Francis Marion 3, Belmont Abbey 0 (Mar 20, 2019 at Florence, SC) (Game 1)
Belmont Abbey....... 000 000 0 -  0  5  2      (11-12)
Francis Marion......  000 012 X -  3  5  1      (18-10)
Pitchers: Belmont Abbey - Annabeth Watkins and Claire Doyle. Francis Marion - Katelyn Ellard
and Chelsea Welty.
Win-Katelyn Ellard (12-4)  Loss-Annabeth Watkins (7-5)  T-2:08  A-27
Weather: Rainy,47,winds NNE @ 9 mph

Belmont Abbey 2, Francis Marion 1 (Mar 20, 2019 at Florence, SC) (Game 2)
Belmont Abbey....... 200 000 0 -  2  6  1      (12-12)
Francis Marion......  000 100 X -  1  5  2      (18-11)
Pitchers: Belmont Abbey - Ivorie Maltby and Claire Doyle. Francis Marion - Janecia Hemingway;
Katelyn Ellard (5) and Chelsea Welty.
Win-Ivorie Maltby (3-5)  Loss-Janecia Hemingway (5-4)  T-2:23  A-0
Weather: Rainy,47,winds NNE @ 8 mph