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UNCP softball snaps losing streakBy Dan Kelly
The UNCP softball team broke their six-game losing streak on April 3 by sweeping their home doubleheader against the Francis Marion Patriots 5-3 in the first game and 9-3 in the second.
The wins moved the Braves to 17-29 on the season with a 3-15 record in the Peach Belt Conference while Francis Marion dropped to 30-12 overall and 8-8 in the PBC.
UNCP struck in the first inning as Braves’ CF Brittany Berrier loaded the bases with a single and C Randi Pruitt dropped a single into shallow center field to drive in two runs.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Braves took control as SS Jelena Shaw began a four-hit inning with a single and scored on another single by DP Katie Rubio. Megan Rusk also hit a bunt single and scored off of a RBI single by Berrier.
At the end of the inning, the Braves had a 5-1 lead.
Francis Marion made a comeback in the top of the fifth after 1B Janine Allen hit a two-run home run to cut the Braves lead to 5-3.
Berrier led the Braves offensively by going 3-3 in the game with one RBI.
Candace Evans pitched a complete game and gave up three earned runs.
In the second game, the Braves exploded offensively for five runs in the first inning. Shaw led off the inning with a single and started a chain reaction of four other hits that led to the five runs in the inning.
The Patriots also contributed to the scores by making three fielding errors in the same inning.
UNCP matched that same offensive intensity in the bottom of the fourth inning as 3B Wendi Cochran capped the inning with a two-run home run off of the top of the fence.
Those runs were part of a four-run inning for Braves and a dominant 9-1 lead.
The Braves mood quickly turned in their next offensive inning as Berrier was called out at home plate on a run that would have given the Braves the game due to the score difference.
Johnson and the rest of the team were visibly upset at the incredibly close call by the home umpire.
After the game was finished, though, Johnson was elated with his team’s level of play.
“This is the type of team I thought we could have been all year,” Johnson said.
Mara Thornton matched Evans’ earlier pitching performance by pitching a complete game while giving up three earned runs.
Overall, the key to the Braves’ success on the day was said succinctly by the head coach.
“Our pitchers got ahead in the counts and got outs. We didn’t make dumb errors behind them and we got key hits to score runs,” Johnson said.