MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. -- Belmont University Softball (2-0) opened the 2019 campaign on a high note with a pair of wins on the first day of the Madeira Beach Invitational. The Bruins pushed past Ball State (3-3) with 5-0 no-hitter shutout for junior Brooklin Lee before knocking off Akron (2-2-2) in five innings, 10-2.
In game one, a single to left from junior Bailey Sims (Flowery Branch, Ga.) got things rolling for the Bruins in the bottom of the fifth inning after senior Taylor Hargrove (Greenbrier, Tenn.) reached base on four balls. Senior Baylee Cook (Lewisburg, Tenn.) took advantage of a fielder's choice and moved all the way to third to load the bases before a throwing error helped Hargrove cross the plate. BU exploded in the bottom of the sixth frame. After stacking the bases behind a pair of walks for juniors Alicia Veltri (Clarksville, Tenn.) and Brooklin Lee (Burns, Tenn.) and a single by freshman Audrey Lyle (Westlake, Ohio), a scoring merry-go-round helped push four runs over the plate to put Belmont ahead 5-0 at the end of the flurry. Lee continued her tear inside the circle, going on to post a blistering nine strikeouts to mark her first shutout of the season. It also marked her first career no-hit shutout and the first for BU since the 2017 season. Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas) went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles at the plate to lead the Bruins.
Stellar pitching continued in the nightcap for the Bruins with Veltri recording seven strikeouts in her first win of the season. The bats continued to boom in the second contest of the day, immediately posting runs in the bottom of the first frame. Cook was walked and notched her first stolen base of the season before an Akron fielding error saw her trade places with Baker for BU's first score. Veltri smashed a two-run homer over the left center fence to put Belmont ahead 3-0 and Lee closed the onslaught with her first collegiate solo homerun to end the half inning. The Zips attempted to bounce back in the top of the third, recording a pair of runs to cut the Bruin lead in half but Belmont would not be denied. BU surged again, this time in the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to another scoring merry-go-round that tallied five more runs. With the run rule in effect, the Bruin defense combined with another strong half inning of pitches from Veltri sealed the 10-2 victory.
For the day, Baker went 4-for-6, hitting .667, with three runs, two doubles and a homerun.
Lee and Veltri combined for 16 strikeouts over the two games, allowing a single extra base hit over 12 innings of work.
Belmont returns to action on Saturday for day two of the Madeira Beach Invitational. BU takes on Monmouth at 1 p.m. ET, followed by Drexel at 6 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available for both.