Lions Chase Down Rams for Conference Sweep
DAYTON, Tenn. – On Saturday, Bryan College softball recorded their third sweep of an Appalachian Athletic Conference team this season when they devoured the Rams of Columbia International University (S.C.) 2-1 and 5-3 to improve to 12-22 overall and 9-11 in conference play. The Lions lowered the Rams’ overall record to 8-24 and AAC record to 2-16.
Bryan outhit Columbia International 6-3 in the quiet opening game, as the Lions were the first to strike with a lone run in the bottom of the third. Tesla Huling got the rally going with a single before advancing on a misplayed grounder committed by the visitors. On the play, she advanced to scoring position at third on the throw. One more misplayed grounder was all the quick Huling needed to capitalize and post the opening run for a 1-0 Bryan lead.
The Lions remained in the lead until the Rams delivered the tying run in the top of the fifth in the form of a solo homerun over the left field fence to match the count 1-1.
Despite having just allowed a run, Bryan kept their composure and went to work, beginning with a leadoff single up the middle by Maryah Sober. Huling advanced Sober to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Sober stayed on the move when Sydney Olander grounded out. With the pressure on, Sydney West entered as a pinch hitter and connected for a clutch RBI single to left that scored Sober for the winning run. The Lions eliminated any charge attempted by the Rams through the final two innings to capture the narrow 2-1 victory.
Austyn Durham went 2-for-3 to lead Bryan in hits while all four including West, Sober, Huling, and Shannon White finished with one hit apiece. White’s double was the team’s only extra-base hit.
The duo of Gabriella Merced and Olivia Johnson proved to be a dominating force for the Lions on the mound, surrendering only one run and three hits through the seven frames. Merced earned her first win of the season after dealing the first five innings and giving up one hit, one run, one walk, and tossing a pair of K’s. Johnson was awarded her first of two saves on the day. She kept the Rams scoreless over the course of two innings and allowed just two hits.
Besides the third inning of game two, the contest was all Bryan’s. The Lions went on the attack early and battled for a 1-0 lead in the first stanza. Before scoring the run for Bryan, Olander initially reached base on a single hit to the pitcher. White advanced Olander with a sac-bunt, and Olander took advantage of the throw by scooting to third. Next up was Heidi Smith whose patience paid off, as she took the free base after four balls. Smith put the Rams in a predicament when attempting to steal second. On the play, Olander also took off for home. The brief hesitation was all Olander needed to safely reach home for run number one.
The Lions turned it into a 2-0 ballgame in the second inning with singles by Lindsey Dunn and Sober. The Rams finally made a move in the top of the third, but the three-run rally would not be enough to overthrow Bryan. After briefly leading 3-2, Columbia International began to unravel in the bottom of the fifth when Sober singled up the middle before taking second on a misplayed grounder. West came afterward and reached on a walk before turning running duties over to Huling. White loaded the bases with another single up the middle. The pressure proved too much, as the first run was walked in. Huling took advantage of a passed ball for the second run, helping the Lions regain control 4-3.
For good measure, Bryan added one additional run to the board in the bottom of the sixth. Columbia International turned two quick outs, but Allison Walker reached on an error, moved all the way to third on a different error, and was driven in off an RBI single to short by Huling. The Lions held on to win 5-3.
Sober’s pair of hits marked a team-best while Olander, White, Dunn, and Huling supported the group with one hit, respectfully. Huling, Sober, and Smith notched one RBI apiece.
The first five innings pitched was handled by Madison Owens who was presented the win after allowing seven hits and three earned runs with no walks and four strikeouts, moving her record to 5-6 this season. Johnson locked in save number two on the day and third of the season after tossing two hitless and scoreless frames, walking no batters, and retiring one with a strikeout.
Bryan will try to ride the momentum into next week’s challenging lineup, which will get underway on the road Tuesday, April 2 at AAC rival 23rd-ranked Tennessee Wesleyan University. The twinbill between the Lions and Bulldogs is starting at 1pm in Athens, Tennessee. Tennessee Wesleyan will enter the matchup with an impressive 20-4 overall record and 17-3 conference record.
For the full 2019 Bryan College softball schedule, click here.
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