Lady Patriots beat Braves in PBC play


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Softball players celebrate their two wins over the UNC Pembroke Braves after a doubleheader.

Jessica Imbimbo, Assistant Editor

The Francis Marion University (FMU) Lady Patriot softball team earned two Peach Belt Conference (PBC) wins in their sweep over the UNC Pembroke Braves on Wednesday, April 2.

Taylor Luff, senior pitcher, threw her fourth no-hitter of the season, helping FMU reach a 2-0 victory in game one of the doubleheader.  The second match went in to extra innings before Kristie Hanewinckel, senior shortstop, walked off on a RBI single and put the Patriots on top, 3-2.

The Patriots scored early after errors from UNCP loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first. Ashley Burney, junior first baseman, hit a RBI sacrifice fly that landed FMU on the board.  In their next at-bat, FMU tallied their second of two total runs after a wild pitch by the Braves.  The Braves would remain scoreless as Luff dealt out 11 strikeouts with just one walk in the first contest. Luff is currently the NCAA Division II leader in total strikeouts with 227.

Game two of the twinbill saw the Braves starting strong, notching a run in both the first and second innings.  The Patriots would answer in the bottom of the third when Shelby Mathews, junior third baseman, hit a RBI single, tying the game 2-2. After three innings, Luff came in to relieve Katie Carnes, junior pitcher, and added six more strikeouts while allowing only two hits.  Neither team scored again before heading to extra innings.

FMU saw chances to win in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings but couldn’t finish and left runners in scoring positions. The bottom of the ninth saw another big opportunity for the Patriots with Hanewinckel at the plate and runners on third and second.  A single down the third-base line would seal the deal, with FMU rallying to win 3-2.

The Patriot’s softball team improved to 20-20 overall and 6-8 in PBC play while the Braves dropped to 17-19 and 5-9 in the PBC.  After four key conference away matches against Lander and USC Aiken, FMU will return home for the remainder of the season.  The next home stand will feature a doubleheader against non-conference opponent Tusculum College on April 10.  The first pitch is set for 4pm.