LMU softball matches best start in program history
Published 8:23 am Monday, March 22, 2021
Winners of 21 games in a row on their home field in a stretch that dates back 13 months, the Lady Railsplitters (22-1, 11-1 SAC) have equaled the 1990 roster by winning 22 of their first 23 matchups, outscoring their opponents by a ridiculous 34-0 margin this week thanks to four mercy-rule shutout victories over Mars Hill and the Royals over the weekend.
Scoring thrice in the bottom of the 1st and never looking back on their way to an 8-0 blowout in the opener, LMU duplicated that same exact score in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader off the strength of a six-run burst in the first two periods. Altogether, the Lady Railsplitters have outscored their opposition 93-22 when playing on their own field, extending their perfect Harrogate record to 13-0 in 2021. Furthermore, no team has been able to score a run over LMU in the past 23 innings of play.
Game 1 – No. 4 Lincoln Memorial def. Queens 8-0 (6 Innings)
Outgaining their opponents 15-0 in the first inning across their last three appearances, the Lady Railsplitters wasted no time galloping out to an early lead in what’s been an absolutely dominant week. Ty-Kella Goins and Madison Henry, LMU’s first two batters in the order, combined to go 10-14 at the plate in the sweep over Queens, with the latter producing a hit in five of her six trips to the plate.
Way ahead in the hits department for both games by a 20-6 margin, Head Coach Ritchie Richardson‘s unit used three of those hits to assume a 3-0 advantage at the end of one. As Henry and junior shortstop Sierra Hucklebee already manned two bases, catcher Audrey Petoskey bombed her 10th home run of the year to leftfield, one of two homers that LMU recorded on the day to move their 2021 total to 18. Of those 18, the Petoskey-Goins combo has collected 13 of those long-balls, with Goins also turning in a solo HR in the bottom of the 6th in the Game 1 rout.
Henry muscled the Lady Railsplitters’ lead to 5-0 in the 4th frame via a triple down the right field line, scoring both Goins and third baseman Grace Cochran. That play marked the first triple of the season for the sophomore on a day where the outfielder gathered three RBI.
As starting pitcher Emma Frost continued to stifle the opposing defense, limiting the Royals to just one hit and eight strikeouts in the victory, LMU captured the mercy-rule W thanks to three unanswered scores in the bottom of the 6th. After Goins’ third dinger of the spring, Henry found home plate once more after a Queens outfield error freed up the runway. An RBI-single down the middle from junior Sami West delivered the knockout blow in the team’s third straight shutout, soon to be pushed to four later in the afternoon.
Concluding the week by fanning 20 of 35 batters faced in only 11 innings of work, Frost only let slide one hit total in both appearances against Mars Hill and the Royals. Centerfielder Kasidi Staley was the only Queens performer keeping the visitors from boasting a 0 in the hits column.
Game 2 – No. 4 Lincoln Memorial def. Queens 8-0 (6 Innings)
Doubling four times from four different players on their way to yet another one-sided decision, the Lady Railsplitters were guided to their 10th consecutive triumph off a balanced hitting attack and another solid outing in the circle from junior Bailey Griffith, who improved to 7-0 individually by holding the Royals to just five hits in the closer.
Henry continued her outstanding afternoon by getting the blue and gray on the board in the first stanza once again, scoring on an RBI-double before Hucklebee did the exact same thing in the next at-bat to bring the advantage to a pair.
A Queens throwing error in a fielder’s choice scenario brought Hucklebee around the bases to hoist the lead to 3-0, before LMU capped off the commanding 1st inning with their second RBI-triple of the weekend, this time off the bat of West.
An Emma Webb single to centerfield in the next frame put Queens in another insurmountable hole at 6-0, bringing both Henry and Goins around the diamond for two more runs. Goins and Cochran were able to put a bow on the sweep with two more doubles in the 5th and 6th innings, rendering LMU’s last five opponents falling victim to back-to-back defeats.
No Queens batters were able to amount more than one hit in the eight-run setback, with Staley standing as the only Royal to have more than one for the entire day. Kate Hunter and Victoria Elder took the L’s at the pitching spot in the one-sided outcomes, as LMU maintained their grip on the top spot in the South Atlantic Conference standings by virtue of an 11-1 record against league opponents.
Staying undefeated in Harrogate by blanking both Mars Hill and Queens this week, the Lady Railsplitters prepare to hit the road for the next six outings, beginning on Tuesday with a short trip to Jefferson City, Tenn. to battle Carson-Newman in another chapter of one of the school’s most longstanding feuds.
Currently, three games back of LMU in the latest SAC standings, the Eagles have slipped to a 13-5 overall record thanks to a 1-3 week that includes a pair of losses to Newberry at home on Saturday. C-N will look to right the ship on Sunday by hosting Bluefield State before taking on the Lady Railsplitters.
While the series history between both clubs favors Carson-Newman by a 50-24 difference, LMU has had its way with the Eagles recently, downing C-N in each of their last four meetings. Three of those four finishes came with the Lady Railsplitters as the underdog, besting Carson-Newman when they were inside the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s Top 25 rankings. The tables will be turned in the 2021 edition of the Volunteer State rivalry, as LMU currently rides their highest NFCA placement in school history as the fourth-ranked team in the nation.
Game times from Jefferson City are slated for 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday.