Madison Johnston set a school single-game record for most innings pitched, Ashleigh Mason made two game-saving plays in right field and Beth Overman singled home the game winner in the bottom of the 12th as University of Mount Olive outlasted North Greenville University 3-2 in game one of a Conference Carolinas softball doubleheader Friday at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. The Trojans snapped an eight-game losing skid while handing the Crusaders their first conference loss of the season.
The Trojans had to settle for a split after falling 3-1 in the nightcap. North Greenville scored three unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Johnston (5-5) retired the first 10 batters she faced on her way to become the first player in Trojan history to record a 12-inning complete game. She threw 131 pitches, including 87 for strikes. Johnston struck out two – both in extra innings – and her lone walk came in the top of the 11th when she pitched around North Greenville's top hitter, Rachel Glazebrook. Glazebrook (10-4), who drove in both Crusader runs, went the distance in the circle and threw 193 pitches.
After Mount Olive (10-20 overall, 1-3 Conference Carolinas) tied game one 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Trojan shortstop Jennifer Jones made two key defensive plays in the top of the seventh. Her diving stop on an infield single kept North Greenville's lead runner on second and she halted a Crusader threat with a force out at third after another diving stop.
In the top of the 10th, Mason made an "Ichiro-like" throw to third on a flyout to right as Trojan third baseman Kalie Smith put the tag on more than a foot in front of the bag for the inning-ending double play. North Greenville had a runner on third with two outs in the top of the 12th when Tori Freedman hit a fly ball up the right field line. Mason made a diving catch in fair territory to end the inning.
Kelsey Akers was placed on second to start the bottom of the 12th and went to third on Mason's groundout to first. Overman then drove a pitch to center against a drawn-in infield to bring home Akers with the game-winning run.
The Trojans left the bases loaded in each of the first two innings and finished with 16 runners left on base for the game. North Greenville stranded 10 runners.
Game two was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning when North Greenville (17-8, 5-1) scored all of its runs with two outs. Trojan pitcher Lauren Smith (2-7) appeared to have overcome Glazebrook's leadoff single with a groundout and a strikeout. The Crusaders loaded the bases on Megan Johnson's single and a walk to Freedman. Infield errors on back-to-back at bats brought in the first two runs and Sarah Armstrong's single gave North Greenville a 3-0 lead.
Mount Olive got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth when Hannah Woodard scored on Overman's sacrifice fly. Akers nearly scored from second when the throw to the plate got past the catcher, but pitcher Cassi Carpenter backed up the play and her throw got Akers out at the plate as catcher Morgan Roach put the tag on for the double play.
Carpenter (1-2) tossed a complete game six-hitter for North Greenville. Caitlin Ewers allowed only one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for Mount Olive.
The doubleheader was a rematch of last year's Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinal and championship game, both won by the Trojans.
Mount Olive returns to action Wednesday as the Trojans play host to Chowan in a non-conference doubleheader which was rescheduled from March 12 due to weather. Game time is 4 p.m.