Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - [Softball]
Photo by: Wesley Sanders
Photo by: Wesley Sanders

DAYTON, Tenn. – For the tenth time this season, the Bryan College softball team faced-off with a top-25 team in the NAIA, and this time it was the visiting University of Rio Grande (Ohio) who are No. 23 in the country. In game one of Tuesday's doubleheader, the RedStorm allowed the Lions only three hits while compiling 11 of their own en route to an 11-1 victory over Bryan. The second game was much different at the Lions applied the pressure late and forced the RedStorm to earn the win, which they did 7-4. The pair of losses dropped Bryan to 5-13 overall and improved their River States Conference challenger to 10-6. 

The Lions were the first to answer and did so in the bottom of the first inning when Heidi Smith (SO/Cookeville, Tenn.) reached on a walk, advanced to second on Hannah O'Shield's groundout, and made her way home on Kimberly McKernie (FR/Powder Springs, Ga.)'s RBI single.


The 1-0 advantage lasted until the top of the third when Rio Grande countered for four runs to take control of the lead. Two errors by Bryan and a pair of hits for the RedStorm, including a three-run homerun sailed over the left field fence, propelled Rio Grande in front 4-1. There was no calming the RedStorm as they added an insurance run in the fourth before ending all hope of the Lions with six runs tallied in the top of the fifth, which ultimately led to an early run-rule finish as Rio Grande claimed the 11-1 final.


Olivia Johnson (SO/Decatur, Tenn.) tossed the first 4.2 innings for Bryan and allowed 12 hits, eight runs with only four earned, while walking two and striking out three. The loss caused Johnson to fall to 3-4 on the year. Payton Kneier (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.) closed the last 1.1 innings and surrendered four hits, two runs, and walked two.


Sydney Olander (JR/Madison, Miss.), McKernie, and Leslie Beecham (SO/Knoxville, Tenn.) collected all of Bryan's hits with one apiece. Smith recorded the run scored, and the RBI went to McKernie.


Rio Grande set the tone early with a four-run rally in the first inning of the second game off four hits and an error.


In the bottom of the third, Bryan made their first move with a pair of runs as Cheyenne Wilson (JR/Bradenton, Fla.) helped build momentum with a leadoff single to left. Back-to-back groundouts helped put Wilson in scoring position at third before Olander connected on a pitch and wound up reaching base on a bobbled ball. Wilson capitalized on the RedStorm error for run number one. Olander advanced to second on a stolen base and then scored when O'Shields shot an RBI single to left, cutting the deficit to 4-2.


Rio Grande managed to build the lead to 5-2 with a run in the fifth, but Bryan responded in the bottom of the frame with the help of Smith who tripled to deep right-center and continued home when Olander singled to right, making the score 5-3.


The RedStorm put the finishing touches on their victory with two more runs in the top of the sixth. The Lions weren't finished yet as Lindsey Dunn (SO/Tennga, Ga.) singled to right, stole second, and advanced to third on Marissa Murray (SR/Hixson, Tenn.)'s groundout. With two outs, Ashley Brown (SR/Pikeville, Tenn.) handled the situation with ease as she punched a shot through the hole at shortstop, scoring Dunn to lock in one more run of the outing during the bottom of the sixth as Rio Grande went on to win 7-4.


All seven innings were overseen by Dunn who had 13 hits and seven runs, just five earned, come against her. She also walked three and hurled five K's as her record moved to 2-7.


Leading the offense was Olander who went 1-for-4 with one run scored and a team-leading two RBI's. O'Shields and Brown each collected one run batted in, respectively, as well as matching Smith, Dunn, and Wilson with one hit apiece.


After taking a brief pause from Appalachian Athletic Conference play, the Lions return to conference play with a trip to Montreat College (N.C.) for a doubleheader beginning at 1pm on Friday, Mar. 9. On Saturday, the following day, Bryan will head to St. Andrews University (N.C.) for another AAC matchup with a twinbill slated to start at 1pm.


For the full Bryan College Softball schedule, click here.

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