The Belmont Abbey softball team wrapped up its home schedule by splitting a doubleheader against Mount Olive, losing the opener 7-3 but using a big fifth inning to spur a 9-7 win in the nightcap. The win clinches the Crusaders first winning Conference Carolinas record since the 2009 season and the game two victory snaps a nine game losing streak to Mount Olive. Belmont Abbey moves to 17-20 overall and 11-5 in Conference Carolinas, while the Trojans are now 22-16 overall and 9-5 in league play.
In the opener, the two teams were locked in a 3-3 stalemate entering the top of the sixth until the visitors plated four runs in that sixth inning, using an Abbey error, a solo homer and two infield singles to break the tie and move ahead by four.
The Crusaders opened the scoring in the second as Shanie McConnell, one of four seniors playing for the final time at Crusader Field, ripped a one out double to right center that scored Anna Mixa, who led off the inning with a single to right.
The Trojans powered ahead one ininng later on a three run shot by Tiffany Hawley, but the Abbey tied the game at three in the fifth as Jena Reisenauer doubled home Alexis Pererio. Mixa singled home Dani Marietta, pinch running for Reisenauer, with the tying run.
Madison Johnston moved her record to 12-3 as she went the distance in the circle, striking out six, walking six and giving up three runs on seven hits.
Mixa had two of the Abbey's seven hits, driving in one run.
In game two, the Trojans moved ahead 6-4 before the Crusaders exploded for five runs in the fifth to erase a 6-4 deficit.
Similar to game one, the Abbey struck first in the first as Mixa's RBI single scored Mackenzie Dziendziel, followed by Amber Faust's single to center that scored Sloane McPeak for a 2-0 Crusaders lead.
The lead did not last long, as the Trojans touched Samantha Jacobs for two runs in the second and four more in the fourth to climb in front 6-4.
Belmont Abbey wasted no time regaining its lead, as the Crusaders scored five times in the fifth, all of off reliever Kylie Ward, who entered the game with no outs in the frame after starter Lauren Smith allowed the first two batters to reach base.
Smith opened the inning hitting Amber Faust with a pitch and then gave up a single to center by McConnell. She was then lifted for Ward, who surrendered all five runs. Ward walked Marietta to load the bases for Brooke Pegram, whose sacrifice fly to center scored Faust.
After Marietta and McConnell moved up one base on a wild pitch, Periero's infield single to third allowed McConnell to score. Pereiro then stole second, followed by Dziendziel reaching on a throwing error by the shortstop, scoring Pereiro and Marietta.
McPeak then scored Dziendziel with a double to right center to increase the Abbey's lead to 9-6, which prompted Smith to go back in the circle for Ward.
Mount Olive scored the final run of the game in the seventh as Kristin Power singled home Jennifer Jones.
Jacobs worked the first five innings in the circle to move her record to 7-9. She gave up six runs, four earned, on eight hits, striking out three. Nikki Faust picked up the save, her second, as she allowed one run on two his in the final two innings. She struck out two.
Ward fell to 0-1 as she gave up three runs, two earned, on two hits in a third of an inning.
The Crusaders finished with ten hits as McPeak finished 4-4. Reisenauer, McConnell and Amber Faust all finished with two hits.
Today was the final game for seniors McConnell, Amber Faust, Nikki Faust and Nicole Stovall. All four were honored before game one.
The Crusaders close the regular season with six road games as part of three doubleheaders, starting with Tuesday's road matchup at UNC Pembroke.