Boiling Springs, N.C. – Standout junior outfielder Meredith Barnes had a tremendous day at the plate, finishing with six hits to lead the USC Upstate softball team to a doubleheader sweep at Gardner-Webb Thursday evening. Upstate won game one, 10-3, and game two, 2-1.
Barnes was simply solid, only getting out once in seven at bats on the day. She finished the first game 2-for-3 with three RBIS and two runs and the second game 3-for-3. Hitting safely in both games, she has lifted her team-high hitting streak to 12 games. Upstate improved to 14-1 with the wins and will open A-Sun play Saturday against North Florida at Cyrill Stadium. Gardner-Webb fell to 3-8.
Upstate threatened in the top of the first inning of the first game. After the first two batters popped out, the Spartans put runners on second and third, but could not push a run across. In the bottom of the frame, Gardner-Webb also put two runners on with two outs, but starting pitcher Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) struck out Mariana Gallardo for the third out of the inning.
The second inning began much like the first for Upstate with the first two batters getting out on fly balls to left field. It ended, though, much different than the first. Kendall Settlemyre (Hickory, N.C.) got things started, hammering a solo home run over the wall in right to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. It was her second home run of the season.
After Hayley Reinfeld (Parkland, Fla.) reached on an infield single, Barnes (Salem, Ore.) doubled to drive her home and give Upstate a 2-0 lead. The Spartans made it a 3-0 game when Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) reached on an infield single and Barnes scored on a throwing error on the play. Upstate tacked two more runs in the inning on RBI singles from Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) and Cheyenne Griffin (Moore, S.C.).
Gardner-Webb began to put some things together in the bottom of the third. The leadoff hitter reached on a walk and Kellie Beres singled off of Alexander's leg to put runners on first and second with no outs. Savannah Burns followed with a single to right to drive in a run and cut the Upstate lead to 5-1. With runners on the corners and two outs, Jordyn Arrowood slapped a single up the middle to drive in a run and cut the Spartan lead to 5-2.
Upstate put a couple of runners on base with one out in the fifth inning, but couldn't push anything across. Gardner-Webb got a run closer in the bottom of the fifth. Morgan Baker led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a passed ball with one out. She scored after Gallardo reached on an error on a fly ball to center, squeezing the Upstate advantage to 5-3 heading into the final two innings.
Upstate needed to put some distance between itself and Gardner-Webb and did so in the top of the sixth inning. After two walks and an error loaded the bases with no outs, Barnes scored from third when Griffin reached on a fielder's choice and the throw home from second was in the dirt. With the bases still loaded and one out, Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.) drove in a run on a ground out to the pitcher, giving Upstate a 7-3 lead.
Upstate made it an 8-3 lead in the seventh when Barnes tripled to right field, driving in Settlemyre. Harris followed with an RBI double and Griffin added an RBI single to give the Spartans a 10-3 advantage.
Gardner-Webb attempted to rally in the bottom of the seventh. The Bulldogs put runners on second and third with no outs. Hawkins replaced Alexander with freshman Jamie Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.). Ujavri induced a pop out and struck out the next two batters to end the game.
Alexander pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three runs on nine hits to earn the win in the circle. She improved to 7-1 on the year, finishing with a season-high 11 strikeouts. Jessica Childers allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings to take the loss and fall to 1-3.
Griffin led Upstate at the plate, finishing with three hits and two RBIs. Barnes and Harris each had two hits, with Barnes accounting for three runs and two RBIs.
Gardner-Webb struck first in the second game. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with two outs when Arrowood drove in a run on an infield single to give GWU a 1-0 lead. Upstate starter Anna Miller (Portland, Ore.) struck out Scarlett Harris for the third out of the inning to limit the damage.
After going three innings without a run, Upstate took the lead in the top of the fourth. With two outs, the Spartans put runners on the corners when Jessica Ujvari (Niceville, Fla.) hammered a grounder down the third base line to drive in two runs with a double to give Upstate a 2-1 lead. It would end up being the game-winning hit.
Hawkins turned to Jamie Ujvari to take over in the circle to start the bottom of the fourth. The freshman delivered. She struck out four batters in her first two innings of relief. She did run into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth. Gardner-Webb put runners on first and second on a pair of walks. However, Ujvari got a strikeout and fly out to left to end the threat.
Upstate attempted to give Ujvari some insurance in the seventh inning. The Spartans scored four runs, but the game was called due to darkness with Upstate still batting. The game reverted back to the last completed inning, giving the Spartans a 2-1 victory and negating the four runs.
Ujvari went three innings, striking out five and scattering two hits to earn the victory. She improved to 4-0 with the win. Gardner-Webb hurler Ashley Rhyne tossed six innings and took the loss to fall to 1-4.