Softball Dodges Rain, Earns Split With SIU Edwardsville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - After a week without a game thanks to weather-related cancellations and postponements, Belmont (5-11) avoided having their seventh consecutive cancellation when they squeezed their double-header with SIU Edwardsville between the rainstorms in the Nashville area and earned a split on the day.
The Bruins fell in the first game, 3-4, after a late-game rally came up short. Belmont stranded two runners in the bottom of the sixth before scoring two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull within one. The Bruins would strand two runners in the final inning. Sophomore Becca Gift (Durham, N.C.) earned her first start at pitcher and threw four complete innings, surrendering four hits and three runs. Sophomore Devon Schmidt (Greenbrier, Tenn.) came on in relief in the top of the fifth, giving up two hits and one unearned run. The unearned run would be the winning run and came in the top of the seventh inning.
In game two, Belmont got on the scoreboard early when senior Julie Harmon (Brentwood, Tenn.) recorded her first home run of the season and the eighth of her career when she hit a solo shot with two outs in the bottom of the second. The run put Belmont on top, 1-0. That score would hold until the top of the sixth inning when SIU Edwardsville scored their only run of the game. The Cougars had threatened in the top of the fourth inning, but a running over-the-shoulder catch by Harmon and a strong relay throw to the home plate eliminated the scoring threat with an out at the plate. With the score tied after seven innings, the game went into a tiebreaker. The Bruins avoided giving up a run in spite of the runner starting in scoring position. Belmont recorded three straight outs to end the top of the eighth inning. In the home half of the ninth, freshman Kayla Brown (Beech Grove, Ind.) came on to pinch run for junior Hannah Irwin (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) on second. Ashley Byers (Westerville, Ohio), the team leader in home runs, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Brown to third. Gift put the ball in play up the middle and deep in the infield and Brown was able to score the winning run from third. Schmidt pitched her third complete game of the season and earned her fifth win.
The win was the fifth of the season for the Bruins and the first against SIU Edwardsville, who was a first-time opponent for Belmont. The win should help the team get back on track after going 0-4 in the War Eagle Classic two weeks ago, the last time the Bruins were able to play games. Belmont heads off into the final weekend tournament of the non-conference season when they travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to compete in the Springhill Suites Buckhead Classic hosted by Georgia Tech. The Bruins will open play with Bowling Green on Saturday, March 12th, at 10 a.m. CST. Belmont will face Georgia State in the second game of the day at 3 p.m. CST. Sunday will hold two games against teams from power conferences as the Bruins face Penn State (Big Ten) in the first game at 9 a.m. CST before the final game of the day against hosts Georgia Tech at 11:30 p.m. CST.