MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Robbin Kennedy’s three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the fifth broke a 4-4 tie as Mount Olive defeated Coker 7-4 in game two of a Conference Carolinas softball doubleheader Sunday at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. Jenny Jackson tossed two scoreless innings of relief for the save.
The Trojans fell 5-3 in eight innings in the opener, despite Jackson’s game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the seventh.
In the nightcap, Mount Olive (17-16-1 overall, 7-5 Conference Carolinas) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first as each of the first four Trojan batters reached safely. Jessica Velasquez drew a leadoff walk and Kat Cahoon beat out a bunt single. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Kelly Minshew’s single brought both runners home. Minshew advanced to third on a throwing error and came home on Jackson’s ground ball to short.
Coker (12-13, 4-6) tied the game with three runs in the top of the third, all coming on consecutive two-out rbi-singles by Shannon Mitchell, Miranda Klees and Allie Bragg.
Mount Olive loaded the bases with nobody out after Minshew reached on an error, Jackson beat out a bunt single and Morgan Whaley singled off the pitcher. Coker kept the Trojans off the board with two consecutive force plays at home, but Kennedy singled up the middle with two outs to put Mount Olive back on top 4-3.
Coker put runners on first and second with nobody out in the top of the fifth and a sacrifice advanced both runners to scoring position. Trojan starting pitcher Kristin Ware retired the next batter on an infield popout, but Julia Nelson-Abbot lined an 0-2 pitch to left to tie the game at 4-4.
The Trojans had runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth. A groundout to third kept the runners from advancing and brought Kennedy up again with two outs. Kennedy sent an 0-1 pitch over the left field fence for her first collegiate home run.
“That one was for my mom, for all the softball games she took me to growing up,” said Kennedy, a freshman catcher/first baseman from Chesapeake, Va. The four runs batted in are a career high for Kennedy, who leads the Trojans this season with 21 rbi.
Jackson took over for Ware to start the sixth inning. She allowed a two-out infield single in the sixth and retired the side in order in the seventh for her second save of the season.
Ware (7-5) matched a career high with nine strikeouts. During one stretch starting in the first inning, five consecutive Coker outs were by strikeout.
Kennedy and Whaley had two hits apiece for Mount Olive.
Coker reliever Becky Dillon (0-3) pitched the final three innings in relief of starter Sydney Greenwalt and took the loss.
In the opener, Coker took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on Bragg’s rbi-double to center. The Cobras had opportunities to add to the lead, but left six runners on base in five innings.
Trojan starter Sasha Snyder retired the side in order in the first and limited Coker to the one run on three hits in five innings. She struck out three and walked three.
Sarah Saunders (4-5) retired the side in order in the sixth and overcame a leadoff hit batsman in the seventh.
Coker starter Shelly Catlett (9-7) entered the bottom of the seventh having retired nine consecutive batters before Jackson drove her first pitch of the inning over the left-center field fence to tie the game 1-1 and force extra innings.
After the international tie-breaker runner was placed on second to start the top of the eighth inning, back-to-back infield singles loaded the bases with nobody out for Coker. Saunders got an infield popout, but an rbi-groundout broke the tie. Bragg followed with a two-run single up the middle and Nelson-Abbott added an rbi-single to give the Cobras a 5-1 lead.
Whaley’s one-out pinch-hit rbi-single brought home Katie Nalley to pull Mount Olive within 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth. Cahoon singled to center one out later and the Trojans loaded the bases when Minshew reached on an infield single off of Greenwalt, who replaced Catlett. Jackson drew a walk to pull Mount Olive within a run. But Greenwalt fielded a hot bouncer to the pitching circle to close out the game and picked up her second save of the year.
Cahoon and Minshew both went 2-for-4 for the Trojans.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans travel to Laurinburg, N.C., to take on St. Andrews in a Conference Carolinas doubleheader. Game time is 2 p.m. The Trojans were scheduled to play at Fayetteville State Monday, but the doubleheader was canceled and will not be rescheduled.
Coker plays host to Queens Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Conference Carolinas doubleheader.