No. 6 Pirates Advance To PBC Softball Semifinals With 7-5 Win Over FMU
COLUMBUS, Ga. - The sixth-ranked and top-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State University softball squad advanced to the 2012 Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals with a 7-5 win over eighth-seeded Francis Marion on Saturday afternoon at Cougar Park in Columbus.
The Pirates stretched their win streak to 18 with the victory, advancing to a 1:30 p.m. semifinal matchup with fifth-seeded Columbus State - 3-1 winners over fourth-seeded Flagler. Armstrong moves to 44-8 on the season while Francis Marion falls to 31-20.
Meeting the Patriots for the third time in five days and Francis Marion starter Taylor Luff for the second time, Saturday's game started off much better for the Pirates. After squeaking out a 1-0 win with only one hit against Luff, the Pirates jumped on top with single runs in both the first and second innings. Heather Walker's RBI single in the first staked Armstrong to a quick 1-0 lead, then a Shelby Duff RBI groundout in the second made the score 2-0.
Francis Marion got one back in the top of the third on Ashley Jaramillo's RBI single, bringing the Patriots to within one.
Armstrong loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth inning on a walk to Ashley Buckett, a double by Ashley Schwab and a single by April Jowers - her 100th hit of the season - then Francis Marion left fielder Jazz Holliday dropped a routine fly ball to left, allowing all three runners to score and putting Armstrong up, 5-1.
A home run by Octavia Ferguson in the top of the fifth made the score 5-2, but Duff followed in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run triple to center field and a 7-2 advantage.
A single run by the Patriots on a Destinea Schneider RBI single in the sixth made the score 7-3, and Holliday briefly atoned for her error with at two-run home run in the top of the seventh, but PBC Pitcher of the Year Megan Barnwell retired Kayla Ellingsen on a popup to second with a runner on to close out the 7-5 victory.
Barnwell improved to 21-3 on the year, scattering 11 hits and five runs in the complete-game victory, walking two while striing out two.
Luff (9-7) took the loss, giving up eight hits and seven runs - four earned - in 4 2/3 innings pitched, walking four and striking out four.
Duff went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to pace the Pirates offensively, while Schwab went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Jowers went 2-for-4 to notch her 330th career hit, tying her with Brantley Mack of Lander for the Peach Belt Conference's all-time hits lead.
Jaramillo went 3-for-3 with an RBI to lead the Patriots, while Schneider went 2-for-3 and Holliday drove in two with her home run.