Softball stays above .500 going into final week

(photo courtesy of Sarah Stukes has provided some timely hitting as the Bears go into the final week of the softball season.

(photo courtesy of Sarah Stukes has provided some timely hitting as the Bears go into the final week of the softball season.

(photo courtesy of Sarah Stukes has provided some timely hitting as the Bears go into the final week of the softball season.

As head coach Mike Raynor’s team heads into the final week of the season, they sit in seventh in the current Atlantic Sun standings with a high probability of grabbing the sixth seed going into the season ending championship tournament. With an above .500 record of 26-22 (8-10 A-Sun), one can only hope that the Bears catch fire as they take on Kennesaw State in the final conference doubleheader of the year.

Recent struggles against USC-Upstate and Lipscomb were offset by sweeps against ETSU and Belmont. Georgia Tech and Presbyterian will serve as non-conference opponents, sandwiching the series against Kennesaw State as the 2011 season draws to a close.

ETSU Doubleheader

Playing the bottom feeding Bucs at home, Mercer jumped out to a pair of wins 8-0 and 4-0 to make quick work of their Johnson City victors. It was a special night indeed, as the second game of the doubleheader ended with a rare triple play to cap off the second shutout. In the first game, McKenzie Woody, Amanda Santa Maria, and Kassie Bailey would all account for two RBIs each in the run-rule blowout before Jenni Holtz picked up her 11th win of the season in the nightcap.

In the top of the seventh, ETSU’s first two batters reached base before the spectators witnessed the triple play from the hands of Kassie Bailey. With a line drive to her position at first base, Bailey made the catch, stepped on first and then threw to second to complete the trifecta.

USC-Upstate Doubleheader

After a thriller the night before, Mercer fell to the Spartans 3-1 and 5-2 in Saturday’s games. Stellar pitching from USCU’s Morgan Childers saw her become the conference’s all-time wins leader with the victory, allowing only two hits all game.

After grabbing an early 2-0 lead in the second game, Mercer was able to push across a run courtesy of Sarah Santana’s RBI single, but the effort would fall short in the end. Allison Jones would add a solo homerun in the seventh, but the Spartans improved to 36-11 with the win.

Georgia State Doubleheader

The split with the Panthers helped MU rebound from a tough go with USC-Upstate as Kari Chambers had the offense behind her in the team’s 8-2 victory in game one. Unfortunately, the same offense would not show up as Georgia State would take game two, 3-2.

Kassie Bailey would have another monster game to start off the afternoon, eventually batting in four runners, extending her hitting streak to nine games in doing so. The Bears mustered ten hits in the nightcap, but were only able to push across two runs in the seven inning contest.

Belmont Doubleheader

The Bruins provided mince meat for the Bears to get back on track as the Nashville team fell 1-0 and 5-3 to Mercer. Throwing in both games, Kari Chambers had an incredible afternoon with 10.2 innings pitched while striking out ten batters. Using small ball to win the first game as Tiffany Phillips scored the winning run on a passed ball, the offense would come alive in the second game with Sarah Santana going 2-for-2 with an RBI.

Lipscomb Doubleheader

There were two games, but they ended with the same outcome, 1-0. The Bison defeated Mercer in pivotal contests as the Bears lost both due to fielding errors. The only bright spot of the series was McKenzie Woody who extended her hitting streak by knocking singles in both games against the stingy counterparts from Nashville.