BURLINGTON — As the No. 7 seed in the 2017 Conference Carolinas tournament, the Barton College softball team gave No. 2 Limestone all it could handle in the late stages of Friday’s game at Springwood Park.
The Lady Bulldogs rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh, and were one strike away from getting out of the bottom half.
However, the Saints struck for back-to-back singles, the latter being Caroline Hill’s single to plate Shay Reynolds and deny Barton the upset with a 3-2 loss. Later in the day, Barton had its season ended in the double-elimination affair with a 7-3 loss to King.
Barton concluded the season with a 24-26 record, the first under the tutelage of Junior Bailey.
Against Limestone in the seventh inning, sophomore Hannah Jones led off by reaching on an error. Down to its final out, the Lady Bulldogs produced the tie with senior Megan Kelly’s double down the left-field line to score Jones, and Conner’s single into right field scored the speedy Kelly from second.
But in the bottom half, Limestone manufactured its walk-off run. Pinch hitter Haley Crouch singled, and with two outs and one strike remaining, Sam Thornton singled into left field off Jones. Hill followed with another single into left field to end the game.
Jones allowed seven hits through 62⁄3 innings, striking out one and walking two. Courtney Smith pitched the distance for Limestone, yielding a pair of unearned runs. Barton actually outhit Limestone (42-9), 8-7.
Conner went 3 for 4 to pace Barton offensively. Kelly and freshman Sierra Hearp, Barton’s lone representative on the all-conference team, was 2 for 3 with a double.
Hearp lasted just 12⁄3 innings in relief in absorbing the game two loss. King led 7-0 in the sixth before Barton got on the board with two-run error. Senior Taylor Bowden’s groundout scored classmate Sydney Speight to cap the scoring.
Careers ended for Speight, Conner, Carolina Merrill, Kelly and Bowden.
Score by innings:
Barton 000 000 2 — 2
Limestone 100 100 1 — 3
WP-Hannah Jones (12-9) 62⁄3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO. LP-Courtney Smith (17-4) 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Kelsie Conner 3-4, RBI, Megan Kelly 2-4, 2B, RBI, Sierra Hearp 2-3, 2B; Limestone: Caroline Hill 1-3, 2 RBI.