McKernie’s Solo Shot Caps Split With St. Andrews
LAURINBURG, N.C. – Following a doubleheader at Montreat College (N.C.) on Friday, the Bryan College softball continued Appalachian Athletic Conference play on Saturday as they challenged St. Andrews University in a pair of road contests. Game one was relatively quiet except for the first two innings, which would decide the outcome. The Knights began with two runs in the bottom of the first, and the Lions countered with one in the second but it wouldn’t be enough as St. Andrews fended off Bryan and won 2-1. Game two was a much different as each side tallied eight hits apiece for an eventful 5-2 decision that went the Lion’s way. Bryan struck first with two runs in the first and spread their effort out in the following innings with two in the third and one more in the fifth. Besides a two-spot by St. Andrews in the bottom of the third, the Knights were silenced in the scoring department.
The split moved the Lion’s overall record to 6-16 and conference record to 3-3, while the Knights shifted to 14-12 overall and 2-4 in AAC play.
It only took the first two innings to determine the victor as play got underway on Saturday. The Knights were the first to get on the board as they used a sacrifice fly to left to score the first run and then connected for an RBI single that recorded what would be the winning run.
The top of the second was Bryan’s only successful offensive frame as Courtney Bonaiuto led off with a single to shallow right-center, advanced to second on Kimberly McKernie’s groundout, stole third, and then scored on the play as St. Andrews attempted to catch her stealing but ended up committing a wild throw.
Despite receiving the loss, Lindsey Dunn did a remarkable job in the circle for the Lions as she tossed the first five innings and surrendered just five hits and two runs. Allison Walker handled the sixth inning and was spotless other than one walk. Bryan’s trio of hits were collected by Sydney Olander, Hannah O’Shields, and Bonaiuto.
In the second game, the Lions answered early as they took their turn grabbing an early 2-0 advantage after one inning of play. Tesla Huling reached on a walk to leadoff for Bryan and then worked her way around the bases before McKernie sent her home with an RBI single to center. McKernie extended her reach to second while advancing on the throw. Olander was up next and reached base on a St. Andrews’ error, which allowed McKernie to score.
Bryan created more separation in the top of the third with another two runs. The Knights notched two quick outs, but the Lions wouldn’t be deterred as McKernie wore a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A single by Olander advanced McKernie, putting runners on the corners. O’Shields was patient and waited for her pitch as she knocked a two-run single to center, growing Bryan’s edge to 4-0.
A pair of doubles by the Knights and an error by Bryan in the bottom of the third inning resulted in the only two runs scored by St. Andrews in the contest as they slimmed the margin to 4-2.
Batting second for the Lions in the top of the fifth was McKernie who used one swing of her bat to tack on an insurance run. The solo long shot over the fence in left field marked her first homerun as a Lion and only Bryan’s third homer posted this season, completing the 5-2 victory.
It was a shining moment for Courtney Petty, who battled injury to begin the year, as she registered her first win of the season. Olivia Johnson threw the last 4.1 innings and ended with just four hits come against her while striking out two for a quality performance.
McKernie put up a player of the game showing as she went a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two runs batted in, including the only homerun of the series. Ashley Brown was the only other Lion with a multi-hit game as she ended 2-for-3. O’Shields matched McKernie for the team-high two RBI’s and finished with one hit along with Olander and Bonaiuto.
Next up for Bryan is an AAC meeting at Point University (Ga.) with the Skyhawks for a twinbill slated for Thursday, Mar. 15 starting at 3pm.