Lauren Smith retired 21 consecutive batters after allowing a bunt single in the top of the first and Kalie Smith belted a third-inning home run as second-seeded Mount Olive stayed alive with a 3-0 victory over No. 4 seed Queens in an elimination game in the 2013 Conference Carolinas Softball Tournament Saturday at Burlington, N.C. The win gives Mount Olive its second 30-win season in school history and keeps the Trojans in contention in the double-elimination tournament after suffering a 3-2 loss to No. 6 seed North Greenville earlier in the day.
Mount Olive (30-13) will play another elimination game Sunday at 11 a.m. against top-seeded King, which eliminated No. 8 seed Pfeiffer Saturday night.
Smith (6-4) allowed her only baserunner of the game when Whitney Britt bunted a slow roller down the third base line on the first pitch of the game and beat the throw to first. Smith retired the next two batters on a sacrifice and a groundout as Britt advanced to third. Smith ended the inning with her only strikeout of the game.
Smith went on to retire the side in order in each of the next six innings, throwing a total of 78 pitches for the game, 54 for strikes. She allowed only six balls hit out of the infield and benefitted from a defensive gem from first baseman Beth Overman for the final out. Shortstop Jennifer Jones' throw was high on Kaitlyn Cheek's grounder, but Overman made a leaping catch and landed on the bag a half step ahead of Cheek.
Kalie Smith gave Lauren Smith all the support she needed in the bottom of the third when she sent a 1-2 pitch over the 225-foot left-centerfield fence for her fifth home run of the season. Her home run was Mount Olive's 35th of the season, tying a school record set in 2008.
The win came immediately after Mount Olive suffered its first loss of the tournament. The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second against North Greenville when Overman was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Akers' two-out single.
After North Greenville tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the fifth, the Trojans regained the lead on Overman's rbi-double in the bottom of the fifth.
Trojan starter Madison Johnston (5-3) held North Greenville to four hits before allowing back-to-back singles in the sixth. Third baseman Kalie Smith made the defensive play of the tournament as she made a diving stop on a grounder, tagged the bag and threw to first from her knees for a 5-3 double play. But the Crusaders loaded the bases and two runs scored when Kansas Wofford's looper bounced in front of and over the second base bag for an infield single.
Friday's storms and a pair of extra-inning games – 14 innings and 10 innings – have resulted in pushing back the schedule. The winner of the Mount Olive-King game will face fifth-seeded Coker Sunday at 1 p.m. That winner will take on tournament unbeaten North Greenville at 3 p.m. in the championship game. If North Greenville loses that game, a winner-takes-all championship game will be played Monday.