ANDERSON, S.C. – The Mars Hill (9-21, 2-6 SAC) softball team earned a split with second-place Anderson (28-8, 6-2 SAC) on Wednesday evening at the AU Softball Complex. The Lions used the long ball and stellar pitching to take game one 6-1 before dropping the nightcap by a final of 3-2.
GAME ONE: MHU 6, AU 1
The Lions struck for three runs in the top of the first, the big blow coming off the bat of Emiley Burriss. Following a fly out to start the frame Ragan Broome earned a one-out walk before advancing to second on a single by Casey Stanek. Another out set up Burriss' big hit as she lifted a ball down the left field line that just snuck around the foul pole for a three-run blast, her second homer of the season.
Mars Hill was at it again in the top if the third, adding to the lead with another dinger. This time Stanek showed her muscle, scorching a ball to center field for a solo shot, giving the Lions a 4-0 lead.
Anderson came back in the bottom of the third with a single run to cut into the Lions' lead. With two outs and a runner on first, Cailah Niles doubled down the left field line to score Kasey Grant.
However, MHU got that run back plus one in the visitor portion of the fourth inning. After loading the bases with two outs, Ragan Broome and Addison Harris earned back-to-back walks to plate two runs and extend the lead to 6-1.
That was all the run support starting pitcher Sydney Elkin needed as she allowed just three base runners over the next four innings to seal the game one victory for Mars Hill. Elkin (5-6) tossed all 7.0 innings to pick up the win, allowing one run on six hits, while striking out four.
Augie Pena (12-3) was tagged with the loss after lasting just 3.0 innings and giving up four runs on four hits, including two homeruns.
Cassidy Dahle and Stanek led the Lions at the plate in game one with two hits each, while Burriss contributed a game-high three RBIs. No one for Anderson registered more than one hit during the first game.
GAME TWO: MHU 2, AU 3
Anderson struck first in game two, scoring one run in the bottom of the second after Augie Pena singled to centerfield to plate Courtney Czentnar.
Mars Hill came storming back in the top of the third with a pair of runs to take its first lead of the nightcap. Hollie Norris led the frame off with a walk before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt Broome. Dahle added an infield hit to place runners on the corners with one down. Stanek helped herself with a single up the middle and Addison Harris laid down a beautiful squeeze play that sent Dahle racing home for the 2-1 lead.
The Trojans knotted the contest at 2-all in the bottom of the third as Czentnar came through with a two-out RBI single that scored Mattie Hamilton.
Kasey Grant gave Anderson the lead once again in the bottom of the fourth as she belted a two-out solo homerun to left center.
The Lions looked primed to tie the contest in the sixth when Taylor Lail led off with a double to right field. However, the next three batters were retired in order and AU held on for the 3-2 win and the series split.
Stanek (2-6) took the loss in game two, pitching 6.0 innings while allowing three runs on seven hits and striking out a career-high seven batters. Lauren Rudesheim (11-3) picked up the win for Anderson, throwing a complete-game six hitter, allowing two runs. Stanek also led the Lions at the dish in game two, going 3-for-3 with a RBI.
Augie Pena went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs to lead the Trojans in game two. Hamilton also collected two hits in the win.
Mars Hill will return to the diamond on Saturday, April 1 as it plays host to the Bears of Lenior-Rhyne University. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.