SPARTUSBURG, S.C. – The Owls softball team had a successful second day during its South Carolina-Georgia tour, taking its first two games against NCAA DII opponent Converse College. The W defeated the Valkyries 10-5 in game one and 8-5 in game two to get at 2-0 start to the four-game series. With the victories on Tuesday, March 13, the Owls improve to 10-8 on the season.
GAME ONE (W, 10-5)
Cara Hopper, senior pitcher, entered the game in relief for starting pitcher Madison Scoggin to collect her third win of the season. The Steen, Miss. native pitched 4.1 innings for four strikeouts, three hits against, and no runs to help push her team to victory.
At the plate, Katlyn Duke had an outstanding outing with a 3-for-4 appearance at the plate with three runs and Freshman Infielder Makayla Taylor help lead the scoring effort with a 2-for-3 appearance and three RBIs.
The Owls started game one with a bang with five runs scored in the top of the first. Converse quickly answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning but The W held a 5-2 lead at the inning's conclusion.
Both teams' defense stood in the second inning for a scoreless inning but the opposing offenses struck gold for runs in the third.
In the top of the third, Kandler Flora singled to the pitcher for a RBI to allow Duke to record her second run of the game. The run extended the Owls lead to 6-2 going in to the bottom of the third.
The Valkyries battled back with three runs in the inning to cut the Owls lead down to one run (6-5), but The W defense remained solid and prevented any additional runs for Converse.
The Owls offense continued to work with four runs in the fourth to close the match 10-5.
GAME TWO (8-5)
Ciara Steward, junior lefty, improved her season record to 2-1 with the Owls win on the mound. The Bruce, Miss. native entered the game to relieve starter Tiffany Phillips in the bottom of the third. While in the pitcher's circle, Steward pitched 2.0 inning for four hits against and one earned run.
Cara Hopper received her first save of the season, entering the game in the bottom of the fifth to tally three strikeouts, four hits against, and two earned runs.
Offensively, several Owls had successes at the plate. Heidi Matthews saw at 1-for-1 appearance with three RBIs, Brianna Duquette went 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI, and Kandler Flora went 2-for-2 with two runs.
The Owls started the scoring effort early with a run in the first inning and two runs in the second. Anna Lloyd scored in the first on a dropped fly by the Converse centerfielder and in the second Mateline Newman and Flora scored on a bases-loaded walks.
The W added four more runs in the third; one on a single by Duquette that allowed Carolyn "Kendall" Wilkinson to score and three more on walks while bases were loaded.
Converse finally made it to the scoreboard in the bottom of the third with two runs to cut the Owls lead to 7-2 but the Owls answered with another run in the top of the fourth.
The Valkyries continued to fight with one run scored in the bottom of the fourth and two runs in the bottom of the seventh but it was not enough to prevent their own defeat.
COACH TAT'S THOUGHTS
"We hit well today and capitalized on errors. We need to do a better job of not leaving runners in scoring position and few other things but we did a lot of things right. We will rest tonight and get back at it tomorrow."
The Owls will continue the four-game series at Converse College on Wednesday, March 14. The first pitch of the final two games is set for 1 p.m. EST/12 p.m. CST. Follow the live stats: HERE.
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