Two big innings allow Patriots to ground the Flying Fleet

Two big innings allow Patriots to ground the Flying Fleet

DUE WEST, SC – Francis Marion University scored six runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to rally past Erskine College and claim an 11-9 win in the opening game of a non-conference softball doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon (March 27).  FMU registered only three hits in game two, but they all came in a four-run third inning that paved the way to a 4-3 win.

Francis Marion improves to (23-12) and will play a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader at Georgia College on Saturday at noon.  The Patriots are in the midst of an eight-game (four doubleheaders) road trip.

Senior shortstop Taylor Johnson led the Patriots in game one with four hits, including a double, a home run, and five runs batted in.  Freshman Liberty Schultz came off the bench and added two hits (the first of her collegiate career) and scored three times, while senior first baseman Jessica Harney and freshman right fielder Danielle Karacson both went 2-for-4

Sophomore right-hander Katelyn Ellard (15-4) scattered nine hits and struck out six as she registered her 16th complete game of 2019.

Trailing 7-5 in the top of the seventh, Francis Marion loaded the bases with no outs and forced a pitching change.  After two outs, Johnson drove in her fifth run of the contest with an infield single and senior third baseman Angela Buccilli tied the game at 7-7 with a bases-loaded walk.  Senior catcher Chelsea Welty then followed with a clutch two-run single down the right field line to give FMU the lead (9-7). Jessica Harney plated a pair of key insurance runs on a single to right to complete the rally.

Erskine scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to trim the margin to 11-9, but Ellard stranded the potential tying runs on base.

Senior center fielder Reagan Davis paced Erskine (17-10) in game one with four hits and five RBIs.  Left-handed reliever Sheridan Butcher (1-1) was tagged with the loss.

The Patriots took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Johnson led off with a single and scored on a two-out double down the right field line by Karacson.  Erskine answered with a run in the bottom of the frame on an RBI-double by Davis to knot the score at 1-1.

FMU went up 2-1 when Johnson doubled home Schultz, who entered the game as a pinch runner, in the top of the second.  The Flying Fleet again tied the score in the third on a run-scoring single by Davis.

Johnson then put FMU back ahead 5-2 with a three-run homer over the center field fence in the top of the fourth inning.

Davis added another RBI single in the last of the fifth prior to Shi Cain belting a grand slam and putting Erskine ahead for the first time at 7-5.

In the second contest, junior righty Amie Hutchison (2-3) made just her second start and responded with a five-hit complete game.  The English International struck out three and walked three.

In the decisive third frame, Johnson reached base on a one-out error and scored on a triple by Buccilli.  Welty followed with an RBI single to left giving FMU a 2-0 advantage.  After a fly ball resulted in the second out, Karacson walked to put runners on first and second.  Senior second baseman Jaimie Harney reached on an error with Welty scoring, and Hutchison followed with an RBI single to left, her first run batted in as a Patriot.

Hutchison retired the first nine batters she faced and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning.

Erskine tallied single runs in each of the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings to draw within 4-3. The Flying Fleet got the potential tying run on base in the seventh, but Hutchison recorded the final two outs to seal the twin bill sweep.

Sophomore catcher Taylor Lawhon, a Hartsville native, had a pair of hits and an RBI for Erskine in game two.

Francis Marion 11, Erskine 9 (Mar 27, 2019 at Due West, SC) (Game 1)
Francis Marion...... 110 300 6 - 11 13  2      (22-12)
Erskine.............      101 050 2 -  9  9  3      (17-9)
Pitchers: Francis Marion - Katelyn Ellard and Chelsea Welty. Erskine - S. Schmidt;
S. Butcher (4); K. Brown (7) and M. Deal; M. Branham.
Win-Katelyn Ellard (15-4)  Loss-S. Butcher (1-1)  T-2:26  A-65
HR FMU_SB - Taylor Johnson.
S. Butcher faced 3 batters in the 7th.

Francis Marion 4, Erskine 3 (Mar 27, 2019 at Due West, SC) (Game 2)
Francis Marion...... 004 000 0 -  4  3  1      (23-12)
Erskine.............      000 111 0 -  3  5  2      (17-10)
Pitchers: Francis Marion - Amie Hutchison and Chelsea Welty. Erskine - M. Hendrix; H. Houge(4)
and T. Antley; T. Lawhon.
Win-Amie Hutchison (2-3)  Loss-M. Hendrix (9-4)  T-1:51  A-100