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Lady Bucks earn much-needed split with Cleveland State

Posted on Monday, March 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

LYNCHBURG — The Motlow Lady Bucks needed something good to happen to their softball team after dropping six consecutive games, including a doubleheader sweep by TCCAA rival Cleveland State at home on Friday 10-1, 9-7.

Saturday, Motlow hosted Cleveland State in the final doubleheader of the four-game series on the Moore County campus. With one out in the sixth inning and the Lady Bucks trailing 5-1, Motlow was able to turn the tables, scoring five runs to beat the Lady Cougars 6-5. Motlow completed the Saturday sweep by winning game two 7-4.

The Lady Bucks (8-16, 4-12) will be back in action on Tuesday at their home field, when they step outside the conference to host defending national champion Wallace State at 2 p.m. The Lady Lions were ranked No. 1 in the nation in the preseason NJCAA poll and have played an extremely difficult schedule. After struggling early, Wallace State has won 13 of its previous 14 contests.

Defense was shaky for the Lady Bucks on Friday when they committed a total of 13 errors in the two games. Cleveland banged out 11 hits off Motlow starting pitcher Mindy Jo Britt in game one, although Britt allowed only three earned runs. Chelsea Buffington led Motlow’s offense with two hits.

The second game on Friday saw Motlow commit seven errors, yet the Lady Bucks scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull within two runs of the Lady Cougars before the rally fell short. Lindsey Knoer pitched four innings and scattered 10 hits, allowing five earned runs. Monica Lane tossed the final three innings and didn’t allow a hit.

Motlow scored single runs in the first and third innings, added two more in the fourth, and then made their late surge with three in the seventh. Bridgette Wilson had two hits, including a double, and drove in two runs in the seventh. Chelsea Howell also had two hits and Makayla Campbell drove in two runs.

On Saturday, the visiting Lady Cougars led the Lady Bucks 5-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Keli Bruning got Motlow started with a double, and with one out Makenzie Hopkins singled Bruning home. Chelsea Howell followed with a single, driving in Wilson to cut the Cleveland lead to 5-3.

Motlow loaded the bases, and with two outs Makayla Campbell singled in Ashley Williams and Morgan Moyers, giving the Lady Bucks their final 6-5 advantage.

Lane (3-3) started on the mound and pitched six innings, allowing only two earned runs. Knoer pitched the final inning to earn the save, her first of the season.

Game two on Saturday saw the Lady Bucks jump out to a lead with two runs in the first inning, one in the second, and two more in the third. Motlow added insurance runs in both the fourth and six innings, and Cleveland scored three in the fifth inning and their final run in the seventh.

Knoer (4-7) picked up the win, scattering six hits and allowing three earned runs in 4.1 innings. Britt notched her second save, allowing just two hits and one run in the final 2.2 innings.

Lauren Warren and Bruning each had three hits for the Lady Bucks, with Morgan Frye, Campbell, Wilson and Howell joining Warren and Bruning with runs batted in for Motlow. The Lady Bucks had 20 hits combined during Saturday’s doubleheader.

The Lady Bucks will return to conference play when they travel to Millington this weekend for a four-game series with Southwest Tennessee.