HARROGATE, Tenn. — The Lady Railsplitters (16-9, 0-2 SAC) opened South Atlantic Conference play by dropping both ends of a doubleheader to the Wingate Bulldogs (15-13, 2-0 SAC) on Sunday afternoon at Dorothy Neely Field.
Wingate starter Rachel Weidner stymied the Lincoln Memorial attack in game one, tossing a complete-game shutout to lead the Bulldogs to a 6-0 win.
In game two, the Lady Railsplitters fell into a 7-1 hole before rallying to put the potential tying run at second base in the bottom of the seventh. However, the Bulldogs held on to complete the sweep with a 7-6 win.
The Lady Railsplitters finish off their six-game home stand with a SAC doubleheader against the Anderson Trojans on Wednesday. First pitch in game one is set for 1 p.m. at Dorothy Neely.
Game One: Wingate 6, Lincoln Memorial 0
Dakotah Fraley went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and also drew a walk, while BriAnna Schrimpf reached twice courtesy of two hit-by-pitches, but no other LMU player could find any success against Weidner.
Aside from Fraley’s 2-for-2 performance, the rest of the Lady Railsplitters finished 2-for-21 against Weidner, who struck out eight over seven innings of work to even her season record at 6-6.
The top half of the Wingate batting order led the Bulldogs to victory, accounting for nine of the team’s 13 hits. Leadoff hitter Naomi Sapp went 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI, while Mary Claire Coyne also went 3-for-4 with three singles.
Clean-up hitter Misty Doran went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Jessica VonCannon made her only hit of the game count with a three-run home run in the top of the seventh.
The Bulldogs did all of their damage in two innings.
After Lincoln Memorial and Wingate traded two scoreless frames, the Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. Rebekah Woods sparked the rally with a single and scored on Sapp’s triple off the wall in left center.
In the next at-bat, some confusion on a ball between Fraley and Allie Jones in shallow left field resulted in a dropped fly ball, allowing Sapp to score on the play. A fielder’s choice by Doran then scored VonCannon, who reached on the error.
Junior right-hander Brianna Taylor kept the deficit at 3-0 until Wingate put three more runs on the board and scattered five hits in the top of the seventh. Woods and Sapp led off with singles to put two runners on for VonCannon, who launched a towering home run over the wall in left center to double the Bulldogs’ lead.
Taylor allowed a season-high 13 hits and finished with two strikeouts to fall to 9-4 on the year.
The Lady Railsplitters were shutout for just the third this season, but it wasn’t for a lack of opportunities. Lincoln Memorial went 1-for-7 with runners on base compared to a 7-for-15 effort by the Bulldogs.
A single by Fraley and Schrimpf’s first hit-by-pitch put runners on first and third with one out in the first. However, a line out to third and a base running blunder ended that inning abruptly.
In the bottom of the third, Fraley and Jennifer Moose singled before Schrimpf was hit by another pitch to load the bases with one out. Weidner snuffed out that threat as well by striking out Ty-Kella Goins and Meredith Johnson in succession.
Fraley singled and stole second to give the Lady Railsplitters another chance in the bottom of the fifth, but she was called out after leaving early while trying to tag up from second on Moose’s fly out.
Weidner retired the last seven batters she faced and struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to wrap up her complete-game shutout.
Game Two: Wingate 7, Lincoln Memorial 6
The Lady Railsplitters trailed 7-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but Jacie Pittman gave the home team a chance by hammering a grand slam, which followed three straight singles from Goins, Johnson and Jones, to cut the Wingate lead to two. That was the sophomore’s first career home run.
Lincoln Memorial carried that momentum into the bottom of the seventh, as a single by Moose and another hit-by-pitch on Schrimpf put two runners on with no outs. Johnson singled back up the middle to drive a run in and close the gap to 7-6, but the Lady Railsplitters couldn’t bring the tying run home after that.
Wingate racked up 11 hits and scored two runs in the second, third and fifth innings to race out to that big lead.
Sapp went 3-for-5 to finish off the doubleheader with six hits, while Coyne, Katie McLaurin and Taylor Wells finished with two hits apiece. McLaurin hit a solo home run and drove in two runs, while Wells also went deep and accounted for three RBI for the Bulldogs.
Wingate jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, as Emma Swenson drew a leadoff walked and scored courtesy of a fielding error in right field. Sapp then drove in Jordan Floyd, who reached on the error, with a two-out single.
Goins led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run to cut the Bulldogs’ lead in half, but Wingate would score five more runs before the Lady Railsplitters’ late flurry.
Wells drove in two runs with a two-out single back up the middle in the third and added a solo homer in the fifth, which was the Bulldogs’ second dinger of the inning. McLaurin also went deep as part of that two-run frame.
The Bulldogs tacked on what proved to be the winning run in the top of the sixth, as Sapp led off with a single, moved to third on back-to-back wild pitches, and scored on McLaurin’s single.
Johnson went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the LMU attack. Moose reached in all four plate appearances with a pair of singles and two walks, while Jones went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Justice Smith was saddled with the loss after allowing eight hits and five earned runs. Smith struck out six and walked three over 4.2 innings of work to fall to 7-5 on the season. Kelsie Hocutt was solid in relief, holding the Bulldogs to three hits and one run over 2.1 frames.
Weidner threw the first five innings for the Bulldogs, but was pulled after Pittman’s grand slam. Aubrey Reep earned the save after allowing just two hits and one run with two strikeouts in two innings of work.