March 3, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, NC -- The Fayetteville State University softball team dropped two games against Claflin on Sunday at Leonard R. Sanders Field. A 6-5 defeat followed by a 7-2 loss drops the Lady Broncos to 0-9 this season.
"We are getting better with each game, so that is the good news," coach Miguel Justiniano said. "But we need to finish and I believe we are getting there as well.
FSU was nearly able to finish a win in Game One but couldn't push a run across when it needed to. The Lady Broncos had a one-run lead entering the seventh inning before a two-run frame made it 6-5 Panthers.
Spencer Embler (Thomasville, N.C.) , Sierra Henderson-Holmes (Olivia, N.C.) and Haley Wood (Spring Hope, NC) walked leading off the bottom half of the inning. A fielder's choice off Erica Rodriguez's bat followed, forcing Embler out at home. Rebekah Reep's ensuing double play ended the game.
The five runs the Lady Broncos scored equals a season-best. They started their scoring started in the second inning when -- after Wood walked, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch -- Rodriguez (Charlotte, NC) came through with an RBI single to give FSU a 1-0 lead. Rodriguez eventually reached second on another wild pitch, but did not score.
Claflin took the lead in the third inning thanks to a three-run frame, but FSU scored four times in the bottom half to seize a 5-3 advantage. Daniqua Taylor (Currie, NC) earned a one-out walk, then advanced to second and third on wild pitches. A Panthers error put runners on the corners, and a wild pitch enabled Embler to take second. Henderson-Holmes walked before Wood singled home Taylor.
Rodriguez broke the inning open with a 3-run, one-out single to the right side that made it 5-3 Lady Broncos. That was the score until the fifth, when Claflin pushed a run across.
Kyrin Walker (Carthage, NC) pitched 6 1/3 innings in the circle, allowing five runs (two earned) and striking out three. Rebecca Polaschek (Fayetteville, NC) pitched the last two outs of the game and picked up her fourth loss.
Rodriguez finished with two of the team's four hits and four of the team's five runs batted in.
Game Two was a pitching duel for the first five innings before the Panthers broke through with five runs in the final two frames. After Claflin scored the game's first run in the top of the first, FSU answered with a score in the bottom half of the second.
Wood stroked a one-out triple down the left field line, then came around to score on a Rodriguez sacrifice fly to knot the game at 1-1.
Claflin scored again in the third to regain the lead. After a couple of scoreless frames, the Lady Broncos retied the game in the bottom half of the fifth.
Reep (Fayetteville, NC) led off with a single up the middle and took second on a Brittany Freeman (Fayetteville, NC) sacrifice bunt. Taylor followed with a single to center that chased home Reep. Taylor stole second but was stranded there to end the inning.
Claflin broke things open in the sixth, when the Panthers scored three of their runs. They followed with a two-spot the following inning and Claflin pitcher Helen Keevy shut out the FSU offense in the final two innings.
Zoe Howard (Hampstead, NC) started in the circle for the Lady Broncos and pitched 6 2/3 innings. She allowed seven runs (five earned) and struck out eight Panthers hitters. Reep had two of the team's six hits.
The Lady Broncos open up conference play on Saturday in Petersburg, VA. They'll play Elizabeth City State and Chowan at 1 pm and 3 pm, respectively, before squaring off with Virginia State the following morning at 11 am.