The Spring Hill College softball team swept both ends of a doubleheader over No. 19 Notre Dame College (Ohio) behind the pitching of junior Sam Brooks who took home the victory in both games by the scores of 1-0 and 7-6 on Wednesday afternoon at Murray Field.
In the first game, Brooks (2-3) and Notre Dame's Meredith Harbarger (1-1) battled through 5½ innings of scoreless softball before the Badgers struck for a run in the bottom of the 5th inning. With two outs and centerfielder Lindsey Taylor straddling 3rd base, second baseman Brittany Abate slapped a grounder to her counterpart Christine Kasidonis who booted the play, allowing Taylor to score the go-ahead run on the error.
Brooks went the distance allowing six hits in the shutout with six strikeouts and one walk. Harbarger took the complete game loss surrendering one unearned run off eight Badger hits, a walk and a strikeout.
At the plate, Brooks helped her own cause with a 3-for-3 outing including a double in the 4th inning and right fielder Ersy Pacheco tallied two hits. Kasidonis and centerfielder Candace Shofar both had two hits for the Falcons.
The nightcap open with fireworks as both teams scored four runs in the 1st inning off SHC starter Lauren Crane and ND starter Mallory Harder. Harder lasted just 1/3 of an inning allowing four earned runs off five hits and a walk before Christine Hutchison took over.
Brooks resumed the SHC pitching duties to start the 2nd and picked up right were she left off by sitting down the seven Falcons she faced.
The game remained knotted at 4 runs apiece until the bottom of the 5th inning when back-to-back doubles by Pacheco and catcher Kayla McCraney stretched out a 6-4 Badger lead.
Spring Hill then dodged a bullet in the 6th inning when consecutive Badger fielding errors loaded the bases with no outs. A run-scoring single by Melissa Dykes cut the score to 6-5, but Abate cut down a runner at home off a fielder's choice grounder followed by a strikeout and a second-to-first ground-out to Abate that ended the Notre Dame threat.
Haley Brown of Satsuma, Ala., tacked on a final run for SHC with an RBI-single in the bottom of the frame and that run would prove crucial when the Falcons opened the 7th with consecutive singles and a sacrifice bunt to put the tying runs in scoring position with one out. A sacrifice fly would to left would make the score 7-6 and then Felisha Jones, who was 4-for-4 in the second game, laid down a beautiful drag bunt to put runners at the corners, but Brooks would field a one-hop grounder back to the mound for the final out and the sweep.
The Badgers racked up 11 hits in the final game with Pacheco going 4-for-4 with two doubles and McCraney collecting two hits and three RBI. Brooks took the win in six innings of work with seven hits, two strikeouts and a walk.
Hutchison was the loser in four innings and giving up two runs off four hits three walks and four strikeouts.
Spring Hill (3-6) will host Dillard University (0-4, 0-4 GCAC) in a doubleheader on Friday at 1 p.m. on Murray Field to open their conference season.