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Lady Bulldogs’ season ends in Conference Carolinas tournament

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BURLINGTON — The NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas tournament continues to haunt the Barton College softball team.

Barton, the No. 8 seed in the field, kicked off play in the tournament Friday with a competitive 3-1 loss to regular-season champion Limestone. But once relegated to the loser’s bracket, the Lady Bulldogs trailed 1-0 in the fifth inning before Belmont Abbey pushed across five runs to pull away for a 6-2 win, ending Barton’s season.

The Lady Bulldogs finished with a 23-29 record in head coach Junior Bailey’s second season and extended a dubious streak in postseason play. Dating back to 2008 — the time of Barton’s last victory in the Conference Carolinas tournament, the Lady Bulldogs have dropped their last 13 postseason contests.

That includes a four-year period from 2010-13 where Barton did not qualify for the field.

Versus Limestone, the contest remained scoreless until the Saints’ Mary Hart hit a two-run homer to right field off junior right-hander Hannah Jones.

Barton halved the margin in the fourth on junior Jessica Onega’s double to left field that plated sophomore Sierra Hearp.

Limestone responded in the fourth, using a Tessa Faucette double to the gap in left center that allowed Kat Tate to touch home. Barton’s final baserunner came in the fifth when sophomore Taylor Martin reached on a two-out bunt single.

Each team ended up with five hits. Jones tossed six innings, striking out two and walking a pair. Courtney Smith won her 20th game against two defeats for Limestone (32-11), pitching the distance. She struck out six and didn’t allow a walk.

Against Belmont Abbey, the big blow came in the fifth on Melissa Neyhouse’s bases-clearing double that drove in three runs. Barton tried to answer back in its half of the seventh with a Samantha Santmyers RBI groundout and Taylor Freeman’s run-scoring single, but could get no closer.

Jones was the only player with more than one hit for Barton versus the Crusaders, going 2 for 2. Belmont Abbey (19-33) picked up two hits each from Elena Duran, Neyhouse and Chace Helms. Neyhouse was responsible for four RBIs, while Duran added a run-scoring double in the fifth.

Makayla Meeks took the loss for Barton, allowing five hits over four innings. Annabeth Watkins earned the win for Abbey, allowing two hits in six innings of work. Barton was outhit 9-4.

Brittany Jacobs played her final two contests for Barton as the program’s only senior.

Score by innings:

Barton 000 100 0 — 1

Limestone 002 100 0 — 3

WP-Hannah Jones (10-11) 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO. LP-Courtney Smith (20-2) 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Jessica Onega 1-3, RBI; Sierra Hearp 1-2, R; Limestone: Mary Hart 2-2, HR, 2 RBI, Tessa Faucette 1-2, 2B, RBI.

Score by innings:

Barton 000 000 2 — 2

Belmont Abbey 001 050 0 — 6

WP-Makayla Meeks (2-4) 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO. LP-Annabeth Watkins (9-13) 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Barton: Hannah Jones 2-2, Taylor Freeman 1-2, RBI; Belmont Abbey: Elena Duran 2-2, 2B, RBI, Melissa Neyhouse 2-3, 2B, 4 RBI, Chace Helms 2-4.

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