DAHLONEGA, GA. – The Mars Hill softball team dropped a pair of games in the first day of the Steak 'N Shake Classic on Friday, February 10, hosted by the University of North Georgia. The Lions are now 2-2 on the season after falling to North Georgia 9-1 and West Georgia 8-5.
Host North Georgia wasted no time jumping on the board as it plated three runs on a pair of hits in the top of the first inning. The Night Hawks benefited from three walks during the frame, while Sydney Sprague was credited with a RBI single.
Patience and good fortune accompanied the Lions to the plate in the home-half of the first. Ragan Broome led the inning off with a full-count walk and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Emily Crouse. Broome moved to third following an error by the first baseman and eventually scored after beating a throw by the pitcher home on a fielder's choice. However, that was the only run Mars Hill could muster and trailed 3-1 after one.
Three more walks to start the top of the second eventually allowed North Georgia to add two more runs to its lead.
The Lions struggled on offense the remainder of the game, managing to tally two singles over the next six innings. UNG took advantage of the situation and added a lone run in the fourth, two in the sixth, and one in the seventh to take down the Blue and Gold by a final of 9-1.
Brittany Duncan was tagged with the loss, dropping to 0-1 on the season as she allowed three runs on two hits and six walks in one inning of work. Kaleigh Jonas and Addison Harris contributed the only two hits of the contest for the Lions. Kylee Smith earned the win for North Georgia after throwing six innings of two hit, one run ball and striking out 12.
The Lions offense was able to earn a lead in the top of the first. Cassidy Dahle led the game off with a beautiful bunt single and advanced to second on a sac bunt. After a walk and wild pitch that put runners on first and third, Addison Harris hit a sharp groundball to short and beat the wrap to first, allowing Dahle to cross the plate give the Lions an early 1-0 lead.
West Georgia came right back in the bottom of the first with a pair of runs. Marley Stowers started the frame with a triple to right center and scored on a groundout one batter later. A base hit crunched in with three walks allowed the Wolves to take the 2-1 lead. Starting pitcher Shelby Culler was able to get out of the bases loaded jam allowing only the two runs.
Mars Hill threatened in the top of the second, putting runners on second and third with two out, but was unable to push across the tying run as the Wolves pitcher induced a groundout to end the threat. The Wolves added two more runs in the bottom of the second. After a lineout to start the frame, UWG cashed in on three consecutive hits to take the 4-1 lead.
Krista Romine started the fourth with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Following a popup Culler was able to help herself with a double to right center, plating Romine. Emiley Burriss came on to pinch hit for the Lions and delivered in a big way as she blasted a 2-1 pitch down the leftfield line for a two-run dinger, knotting the score at 4-all.
After an uneventful bottom of the fourth and top of the fifth, the Wolves came to bat in their half of the fifth inning. The first two batters were retired with relative ease. However, a two-out knock up the middle sparked a rally that ended with Marley Stowers hitting a grand slam homerun to give West Georgia the lead back, 8-4, after five.
Ragan Broome led the top of the seventh off with a double to center and came around to score on a Casey Stanek two-bagger to left center. However, that would be the last of the runs as Mars Hill dropped the nightcap by the final of 8-5. Broome and Stanek led the Blue and Gold with a pair of hits each, while Burriss' two RBIs were tops on the team.
Sydney Elkin dropped to 0-1 as she was issued the loss after recording two innings and giving up four runs on four hits. Lindsye Jefferson improved to 2-0, tossing a complete game while allowing five runs on nine hits.
The Lions will return to the diamond tomorrow morning as they are slated for games against Palm Beach Atlantic (10 am) and McKendree (2 pm).