Athens, Tenn. – Sydney West (SO/White House, Tenn.) started in the circle for the Bryan College Lions Softball Team in the opening game of the Appalachian Athletic Conference doubleheader at Tennessee Wesleyan University on Monday afternoon and fell behind early by surrendering two runs in the first and one in the second, but that was all the Bulldogs could piece together as the Lions slowly chipped away with one run in the first, fourth, and sixth innings to tie the ballgame at 3-3. After a scoreless seventh inning, the contest went into extras but it didn't take long for Bryan to seal the game after capitalizing on two hits and one error in the top of the eighth for the winning run. The 4-3 victory for the Lions was followed by a second game where Bryan cruised through five innings with a 4-0 advantage before adding an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Tennessee Wesleyan made one last effort as they responded in the bottom of the frame with four runs to make it a one-run game heading into the seventh. After Bryan was kept without a score, the Bulldogs applied pressure with a runner on second and no outs but was unable to produce a run as they grounded out and trailed with two fly outs to wrap up play, allowing the Lions to win 5-4 and complete the sweep.
Bryan improved their overall record to 18-18 and AAC record to 12-4, while Tennessee Wesleyan dropped to 17-13 overall and 9-7 in conference play.
The Lions were the first to strike in game one when Kim Borowski (SR/Apopka, Fla.) led off with a single to left, advanced to second on Olivia Gore (SR/Cookeville, Tenn.)'s single, took scoring position at third after Hannah O'Shields (SO/LaFayette, Ga.) hit into a fielder's choice, and then stole home when the Bulldogs were busy catching O'Shields stealing second for an early 1-0 lead.
Two errors and a sacrifice bunt was all Tennessee Wesleyan needed to counter in the bottom of the first, leveling the score 1-1. Back-to-back singles helped the Bulldogs to go on top 2-1 after one inning of action.
In the bottom of the second, Tennessee Wesleyan scored their last run of the game when they were given a free base on a hit by pitch and then advanced to second on a stolen base. A single had the Bulldogs knocking on the door for another run, and a fielder's choice did just the trick as Bryan fell behind 3-1.
After a quite third inning, the Lions closed the gap to a one-run difference in the top of the fourth. O'Shields cracked a leadoff double to center field and then reached third when Becca Zimmerman (SR/Naples, Fla.) flied out to right. Aubrie Osborne (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) stepped up to the plate and scored O'Shields on the batted ball that traveled to center for a single, bringing the score to 3-2.
O'Shields scored again in the top of the sixth to even the game 3-3. She got on base when she connected on a pitch and the Bulldogs bobbled the ball before getting it to first. Zimmerman got O'Shields to second by laying down a sac-bunt. Marissa Murray (JR/Hixson, Tenn.) aided Bryan's score when she ripped a single to second. O'Shields was able to travel to third and then advance to home on the throw.
It was three up and three down in both team's at-bats in the seventh, sending the game into extra innings, but it didn't take long for the Lions to punch in the game winning run. In the top of the eighth, it was O'Shields who got on base first for the Lions by taking advantage of a misplayed grounder. Zimmerman delivered a single to center, which advanced O'Shields to second. Osborne handled the pressure and registered a single to center. Tennessee Wesleyan threw the ball back to the infield, but O'Shields saw an opportunity and took off for home where she scored her third run of the game to help Bryan prevail 4-3.
Borowski, Zimmerman, and Osborne each turned in two hits apiece, while Borowski added a run scored and Osborne notched the team's only RBI. O'Shields finished with a team-high three runs scored and ended with one hit. Gore and Murray made the hit's column with one each in the outing. Besides the three runs, two unearned, scored by the Bulldogs in the first two innings, West went on to shutout Tennessee Wesleyan in innings three through eight. She pitched eight innings, tossed four strikeouts, and scattered 10 hits to earn the win.
It wasn't until the top of the third that Bryan broke the silence in game two when Borowski tallied a leadoff single to center, advanced to second on Gore's groundout and then to third on O'Shields groundout, before scoring on Zimmerman's RBI single to claim a 1-0 edge.
The Lions continued to build their momentum as the top of the fourth got underway. Kayla Hayes (FR/Dresden, Tenn.) singled on a ground ball to the left fielder and then got help from Ashley Brown (JR/Pikeville, Tenn.) and Heidi Smith (FR/Cookeville, Tenn.) with consecutive singles to set her up in scoring position at third. Bryan lined out to center field, but it wasn't enough as Hayes remained at third. Gore put more space between them and Tennessee Wesleyan with a single to left, which Hayes and Brown were able to score off of.
There was no taming the Lions when O'Shields was walked to begin the top of the fifth. Zimmerman singled, which shifted O'Shields to second. Osborne came behind with a well-executed sac-bunt to the pitcher, allowing O'Shields to slide over to third and Zimmerman to second. Bryan's pitcher, Courtney Petty (FR/Lebanon, Tenn.), showed tenacity not only in the circle but also with a bat in hand as she drove a double to center to score O'Shields for a 4-0 advantage.
One more run was tacked on in the top of the sixth for insurance purposes, and the safety net would prove crucial for the Lion's win. The score came from Smith when she struck a fly ball to right field for a leadoff single and used her speed to capitalize on O'Shield's single for the fifth run of the game for Bryan.
Tennessee Wesleyan made things interesting when they loaded the bases after an error by the Lions, a single, and a batter being hit by a pitch. Two singles by the Bulldogs slimmed the margin to 5-2, before a strikeout marked the second out. Bryan continued to struggle for the last out as Tennessee Wesleyan singled once again to move the score to 5-3. Another error was costly for the Lions as another runner made it home to make it a one-run difference. Petty eventually retired the last batter via strikeout to end the threat.
Three quick outs prevented Bryan from adding more onto their score in the seventh. Tennessee Wesleyan grabbed ahold of a pitch for a single to start their at-bat, and the runner made it second on a stolen base. With no outs and the tying run on second, the Lions had to stay focused and make no costly errors. Petty got a batter to groundout to third, which held up the runner at second. The Bulldogs were attempting to bunt but couldn't produce as a fly out secured the second out and prevented the runner from taking scoring position at third. The last batter popped out to shortstop, ending the game 5-4 and holding Bryan at the No. 2 spot in AAC standings, just behind 12th ranked Reinhardt University (Ga.) who owns a 10-2 record in conference play and in front of Union College (Ky.) who trails at 11-5.
Petty was awarded the win after hurling a complete seven innings and giving up nine hits and four runs, one earned, while walking none and throwing four K's. Zimmerman was a perfect 4-of-4 at the plate and chipped in one run batted in. Borowski and Smith were the only other Lions with a multi-hit performance as each had a pair of hits in three at-bats with one run scored. Gore had a lone hit but led the team with two RBI's. O'Shields provided one run scored, one RBI, and one hit. Petty had the only extra-base hit as she doubled and also had one run batted in. Hayes and Brown wrapped up the meeting with one hit and one run scored apiece.
Up next for the Lions is a midweek conference matchup with Montreat College (N.C.) at home on Wednesday, Apr. 12 with the first pitch of the twinbill slated for 2pm. They follow the Montreat series with their final home games of the season on Saturday, Apr. 15, as they celebrate Senior Day against Hiwassee College (Tenn.) beginning at 1pm.
For a complete look at the Bryan Softball schedule, click here.
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