MARS HILL, N.C. – The Mars Hill softball team dropped a pair of games to non-conference opponent Francis Marion on Sunday afternoon at Ponder Field. The Lions dropped to 5-9 overall after losing by the scores of 14-4 (5 innings) and 11-8 (8 innings), while FMU improved to 12-4 on the season.
GAME ONE: MHU 4, FMU 14
Francis Marion struck first, plating seven runs in the top of the second inning. After the first two batters were retired the Patriots strung together six hits and coaxed two walks to take the comfortable 7-0 advantage.
The Lions got on the board in the bottom of the second when leadoff hitter Taylor Lail took a 3-1 pitch and crushed it to center field for her third jack of the season. Mars Hill was not done there. Casey Stanek singled off the first baseman's glove and moved to second following a groundout. Emily Crouse drew a one-out walk and Emiley Burriss ripped a base hit to right center scoring Stanek and leaving Crouse on third. Krista Romine laid down a beautiful safety squeeze, earning a hit and a RBI as Crouse hustled down the line and scored, cutting the FMU lead down to 7-3.
FMU blew the game back open with a pair of runs in the third and three more in the fourth, leading 12-3 heading to the bottom of the fourth. Emily Crouse cashed in her first homerun of the season with a one-out blast to left in the bottom of the fourth, bringing the deficit to 12-4.
The Patriots added two more runs in the top of the fifth and the Lions could not muster any offense in the bottom half of the inning, falling to FMU by a final of 14-4 in five innings.
Burriss led the way at the plate, going 2-for-2 with an RBI. Crouse scored two runs in the losing effort.
Shelby Culler (2-3) took the loss after throwing 1.2 innings and allowing six runs on three hits. Samantha Wreblowski (5-1) earned the win after tossing 3.2 innings of relief and allowing one run.
GAME TWO: MHU 8, FMU 11
Just like the first game Francis Marion struck first. After a quiet first inning the Patriots moved ahead on the scoreboard with a two-out single up the middle.
The Lions gained their first lead of the twin-billing in the bottom of the second inning. After a groundout to start the frame Coral Foster earned a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Emily Crouse sent a soft single into right field to put runners on the corners with one down. Addison Harris stepped into the box and laced a double to left field to put the Lions ahead 2-1.
Ragan Broome added a RBI hit and Casey Stanek was credited with a run-batted-in after a hard groundout. Broome eventually rounded the bases and scored on a wild pitch, putting the Lions ahead 5-1 after two innings.
FMU cut into the Lions lead with a couple runs in the top of the third, but Stanek was able to get a big groundout with the bases loaded to help preserve the advantage for the Blue and Gold. However, the Patriots withstood a Lions threat in the home half of the third and added two runs in the fourth to even the contest at 5-all.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth Crouse beat out an infield single before Harris laced a ball to third base that glanced off the fielder's glove and found its way down into the left field corner, allowing Crouse to score from first, giving the Lions the lead back, 6-5. Once again FMU managed to push across a run in the ensuing inning to tie the game again, this time at 6-6.
Francis Marion added a run in the top of the seventh after a controversial call on a ball down the right field line, taking the lead 7-6. Mars Hill was down to its final out in the seventh before Crouse reached on an error by the shortstop, keeping the inning alive. Harris, just as she had done all game, stepped to the plate and recorded her second double, while Crouse chugged around the bases and tied the game seven.
Extra innings belonged to the Patriots as they scored 4 times in the top half of the inning, including back-to-back homeruns to open up an 11-7 lead. The Lions were able to post one run in their part of extras, but it was not enough as they fell in game two, 11-8.
Stanek (1-3) was tagged with the loss as she gave up 11 runs on 16 hits over seven innings. Cristi Pressley (1-0) picked up her first win of the year for the Patriots, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing three runs on six hits.
Harris led the Lions offensively in game two after going 3-for-4 from the dish and collecting four RBIs. Stanek, Burriss, and Crouse added two hits each, while Crouse also scored three runs.
The Lions will return to the diamond on Saturday, March 4 as they play host to King (Tenn.) in a twin-billing at Ponder Field. Game one is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.