Johnson’s blast propels Patriots to sweep of Bearcats

Johnson’s blast propels Patriots to sweep of Bearcats

FLORENCE, SC – Senior shortstop Taylor Johnson drilled a three-run home run just inside the left field foul pole to lift Francis Marion University to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Lander University and to a sweep of Saturday afternoon's (April 20) Peach Belt Conference softball doubleheader.  The Patriots rode the 5-hit shutout pitching of sophomore right-hander Katelyn Ellard to a 6-0 win in game one.

In sweeping the Senior Day twin bill, FMU concludes its regular season with a 31-18 overall record and a 10-10 conference mark.  The Patriots are guaranteed a berth in the PBC Tournament, to be held May 3-4 at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga.

Francis Marion honored six seniors – Johnson, third baseman Angela Buccilli, second baseman Jennie Polak, first baseman Jessica Harney, catcher Chelsea Welty, and designated player Jaimie Harney – prior to Saturday's first pitch.  All six rapped out hits in the twin bill, none larger than Johnson's long ball.

FMU tailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.   Welty led off with a single and following a strikeout, sophomore left fielder Taylor DeLeon reached on an infield single. Johnson then launched the next pitch from righty Abby Killian (11-9) high over the left field fence giving the Patriots a 4-3 advantage.  It was her 10th homer of the season.

Ellard then entered the game in relief of junior right-hander Amie Hutchison (7-4) and held the Bearcats (19-23, 4-12) scoreless over the final two frames to earn her third save of 2019.  Hutchison allowed only one earned run on five hits in her five innings of work.

Lander scored twice in the opening inning.  FMU trimmed the margin to 2-1 in the second when Jessica Harney legged out a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Polak, and scored on an RBI single to left field by Welty.

The Bearcats stretched their lead back to 3-1 on a run-scoring single by designated player Ashley Vinson in the third.

Welty was the lone Patriot with multiple hits in game two as she went 2-for-2.

Ellard (18-9) silenced the Lander bats in Saturday's opener en route to her PBC-leading 23rd complete game.  She fanned 10 and walked no one as only two Bearcats reached second base.  At one point in the middle innings, she struck out six straight batters.

The Patriots scored twice in the opening frame.  Johnson led off with a single to center and Buccilli followed with a bunt single in front of home plate.  On that plate, the late throw to first was wild allowing Johnson to come all the way around to score and Buccilli to take second.  Buccilli then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman right fielder Danielle Karacson and came home on a ground out by Jessica Harney, deftly beating the relay throw home with a nifty slide.

Francis Marion added four insurance runs in the sixth inning.  Johnson walked with the bases loaded to force in the first run.  Freshman pinch hitter Addie May laced a two-run single up the middle and Jessica Harney recorded an RBI single to left.  It was May's third straight successful pinch-hitting appearance during which she has driven in eight runs.

Johnson was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI to lead FMU in the opener. Her two games on Saturday pushed her career total to 190 starts.

Vinson (7-12) took the game-one loss in the circle for the Bearcats.


Post-game comments from FMU head coach Stacey Vallee and the six Patriot seniors 


Francis Marion 6, Lander 0 (Apr 20, 2019 at Florence, SC) (Game 1)
Lander..............      000 000 0 -  0  5  2      (19-22, 4-11 PBC)
Francis Marion...... 200 004 X -  6  9  0      (30-18, 9-10 PBC)
Pitchers: Lander - Ashley Vinson; Lexi Griffin (6) and Chandler Carey. Francis Marion -
Katelyn Ellard and Chelsea Welty.
Win-Katelyn Ellard (18-9)  Loss-Ashley Vinson (7-12)  T-1:44  A-153
Weather: Overcast,60,Winds SW @ 14 mph

Francis Marion 4, Lander 3 (Apr 20, 2019 at Florence, SC) (Game 2)
Lander..............      201 000 0 -  3  7  0      (19-3, 4-12 PBC)
Francis Marion...... 010 030 X -  4  6  1      (31-18, 10-10 PBC)
Pitchers: Lander - Abby Killian and Chandler Carey. Francis Marion - Amie Hutchison;
Katelyn Ellard(6) and Chelsea Welty.
Win-Amie Hutchison (7-4)  Save-Katelyn Ellard (3)  Loss-Abby Killian (11-9)  T-1:33
HR FMU_SB - Taylor Johnson (10).
Weather: Mostly Overcast,61,Winds SW @ 14 mph