Columbia, S.C. – The Bryan College Lions Softball Team used momentum from their thrilling midweek series sweep of Point University (Ga.) to help them completely overwhelm fellow Appalachian Athletic Conference foe Columbia College (S.C.) at their place during Saturday's twinbill. It only took five innings for the Lions to shutout the Koalas as Bryan pieced together 13 hits that gave way to eight runs. Five innings pitched by Sydney West (SO/White House, Tenn.) saw Columbia squeak out a mere four hits, one walk, and three strikeouts on her way to her sixth win from the circle this season. The 8-0 routing in game one was followed by another convincing victory in game two as the Lions chipped in three runs in the top of the third with the help of Hannah O'Shields (SO/LaFayette, Ga.) and added one more insurance run in the seventh as they sealed the 4-0 blanking of the Koalas. Courtney Petty (FR/Lebanon, Tenn.) guided Bryan from the mound as she hurled a gem, allowing only four hits and tossing seven K's in route to her third complete-game shutout this year. The pair of wins holds down the top spot in the AAC for Bryan as they control a perfect 8-0 record in conference play and 14-12 overall record, while Union College (Ky.) also remains unbeaten against AAC opponents with a 6-0 conference record and overall record of 18-19. Columbia falls to the bottom of the AAC standings with a 1-9 record in conference action and 2-16 overall record.
The Lions claimed an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first, which seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. The rally began when Kim Borowski (SR/Apopka, Fla.) was patient at the plate and reached first on a walk and was trailed by a double ripped to left by Olivia Gore (SR/Cookeville, Tenn.), which set up Borowski in scoring position at third. Becca Zimmerman (SR/Naples, Fla.) had a remarkable performance in game one as she led Bryan going a spotless 3-of-3 with a team-high four runs batted in. Her first hit and RBI came on a successful squeeze play when she laid down a perfect bunt to score Borowski for the first run of the game. Gore advanced to third on the play, and Zimmerman traveled to second on the next play when O'Shields grounded out. One more hit was all the Lions needed to build their lead to 3-0 when Aubrie Osborne (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) smoked a single to center, plating Gore and Zimmerman.
The rally continued in the second inning when Kaleigh Riley (SR/Hixson, Tenn.) doubled to center to leadoff for the Lions. Heidi Smith (FR/Cookeville, Tenn.) reached on a walk, and then Borowski hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Riley to scoring position at third and Smith to second. Zimmerman wrapped up the offense for Bryan with one swing of the bat for a bases-clearing three-run homer over the fence in center to separate them 6-0 from Columbia.
In the top of the third, the Lions added one more to their advantage. Marissa Murray (JR/Hixson, Tenn.) reached on a walk, Ashley Brown (JR/Pikeville, Tenn.) singled to short, and Smith singled to center to load the bases. The Koalas were generous as they allowed Murray a free pass home when they hit Borowski with a pitch, putting Bryan on top 7-0.
The last blow by the Lions was in the top of the fourth. The bases were loaded with no outs when Zimmerman led off with a single to center, a pitch hit Lindsey Dunn (FR/Murray County, Ga.), and Osborne reached first with a single to left. Brown delivered a deep ball to center, and Zimmerman took advantage on the throw as she crossed home plate to bring the final score to 8-0.
Osborne followed Zimmerman with a 2-of-3 performance and two RBIs. Brown and Riley were the only others to produce a multi-hit outing, as each secured two hits, respectively, and one of Riley's came in the form of a double. O'Shields and Gore each tallied one double apiece for their lone hits of the game. Borowski finished with one run batted in and one run scored. Smith and Leslie Beecham (FR/Knoxville, Tenn.) knocked one hit apiece in the contest.
It only took two innings for the Lions to prevail against the Koalas in game two. After two quite innings where Bryan left a total of three people on base, they were able to capitalize in the top of the third when Borowski and Zimmerman singled before O'Shields directed them home with a three-run bomb sent to left on a 1-0 count for a 3-0 lead.
It wasn't until the top of the seventh that the Lions broke the silence when Borowski was hit by a pitch and then took advantage of several mistakes. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, couldn't make it to third on a passed ball but ended up going when Gore grounded out, and then made Columbia pay when she scored on another passed ball. The final run made the score 4-0 which wouldn't change as the Lions held on to complete the two shutouts of the Koalas.
Eight of Bryan's 11 hits were fashioned by two-hit performances from Smith, Borowski, O'Shields, and Kayla Hayes (FR/Dresden, Tenn.). O'Shields collected all three of the Lion's RBIs with her three-run homer. Zimmerman, Brown, and Petty each secured one hit in the game, respectively. Borowski led the team with two runs scored.
On Tuesday, Mar. 28, the Lions and Bulldogs of Union will meet for a top-AAC showdown at Bryan College, with game one of the doubleheader slated to start at 2pm.
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