Kalie Smith had a leadoff double and a two-run single in a six-run fourth inning as University of Mount Olive handed nationally 24th-ranked Wingate University its first loss of the season with an 8-2 victory in game two of a non-conference softball doubleheader Thursday at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. Madison Johnston tossed a five-hitter for her third complete game of the season.
The Trojans had to settle for a split after a seventh-inning rally came up short in a 6-3 loss in the opener. Mount Olive scored all of its runs in the final inning. Kelsey Akers, who singled in a run in the seventh inning, reached base six times in eight plate appearances in the doubleheader.
After spotting Wingate a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the top of the third, Mount Olive (4-6) took the lead for good in the bottom of the third on Katie Moore's two-run double to drive in Akers and Beth Overman. Akers doubled to left with one out and Overman singled and stole second.
Smith got the fourth-inning fireworks started when she found the gap in right-center, went to third on a wild pitch and came home on Savannah Becker's rbi-groundout to the right side to extend the lead to 3-1. The Trojans loaded the bases on a pair of walks sandwiched around a single by Nicole Taliercio. Overman singled in a run and another run came in on an field error to make it a 5-1 Trojan lead.
Freshman Ashleigh Mason drove in a run with a pinch-hit single that landed just inside the line in shallow left field. Smith came up for the second time in the inning one out later and again went opposite field to right to bring home Moore and Overman and give Mount Olive an 8-1 lead.
Johnston (3-1) retired the first six batters she faced before miscommunication in the outfield resulted in Kayla Saliga's leadoff double in the top of the third. Saliga advanced to third one out later on an infield error and scored the first run of the game on Mellena Helms' sacrifice fly.
Johnston held Wingate (9-1) to two hits through four innings before three of the first four Bulldogs bat in the top of the fifth singled. Wingate added a run on Helms' rbi-single. Johnston helped herself defensively with a close force out at third on a come-backer to the circle and got out of the jam on an infield popout. She went on to retire the side in the sixth and seventh innings.
In the opener, Wingate built a 6-0 lead after three innings and starting pitcher Stacey Houser (5-0) kept Mount Olive scoreless through six. Hayley Whitley and Taylor Laskey each singled in a run in the top of the first and Whitley triggered a four-run third inning with another rbi-single.
Trojan reliever Lauren Smith took over for starter Carly White (1-2) with two outs in the third and shut out Wingate the rest of the way. Smith benefitted from a pair of double plays, an unassisted double play in the fourth inning by Overman at first and an around-the-horn double play triggered by third baseman Kalie Smith in the seventh.
After a Wingate pitching to start the bottom of the seventh, Mount Olive loaded the bases on a one-out single by Becker, a pinch-hit single by Jazzmin Montgomery and a pinch-hit walk to Taliercio. The Trojans got on the scoreboard on rbi-singles by Akers and Overman. Houser re-entered for the Bulldogs and after Mount Olive added a run on a fielder's choice, Houser ended the rally with a strikeout looking, her fifth strikeout of the game.
Thursday's doubleheader, pushed back a day due to rain, was the Trojans' home opener.
Mount Olive is scheduled to compete in the Shaw Softball Challenge at Raleigh, N.C., this weekend, but weather has already altered the schedule as all of Friday's play has been canceled due to a 70 percent chance of rain. The revised schedule has Mount Olive playing three games Saturday: 9 a.m. vs. West Chester (Pa.), 1 p.m. vs. No. 20 California (Pa.) and 3 p.m. vs. Le Moyne (N.Y.). The Trojans conclude play Sunday against Shippensburg (Pa.) at 1 p.m. and against USC Aiken at 3 p.m.