Danville, Va. - N.C. Wesleyan's softball team saw its 2018 season come to an end on Friday in the first round of the USA South Conference Tournament. Playing a best-of-3 series versus 3rd-seeded Averett University, the 4th-seeded Battling Bishops dropped the first two games by 3-1 and 15-7 scores, respectively.
In the opener, the Cougars (16-20) plated a single run in the first, but Wesleyan countered with an RBI-double by freshman Meredith Mize in the second to knot the score. Still tied 1-1 in the fifth, the Bishops missed a key scoring opportunity when they stranded a pair of runners at second and third. Faced with a similar sitution in the bottom of the frame, the Cougars got the two-out hits they needed when back-to-back doubles by Andrea Grant and Makenzie Collins put them up for good at 3-1.
Kaitlyn Aherron (7-9) did the rest in the circle, earning the complete game win and scattering just three hits on the day. Freshman hurler Beth Braswell (10-5) suffered the tough loss for Wesleyan, giving up three runs on eight hits over six complete.
Game two saw an 8-run second inning give AU all the momentum it needed to secure the sweep. The Cougars opened up an 11-0 lead before Wesleyan got on the board with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. After loading the bases with one out, freshman Chelsea Nixon drew a walk to plate NCWC's first run, while a pair of wild pitches and an RBI-single by Kaeli Farnsworth brought home the next three.
Wesleyan again loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. After a force-out at home prevented a Bishop run, freshman Meredith Smith delivered a two-run single off the third baseman's glove to get the Bishops to within five, and a wild pitch would later bring home another score to cut the deficit to 11-7. Unfortunately, the Bishops would get no closer as Aherron came on in the sixth to shut down the Wesleyan threat, with the Cougars adding four insurance runs in the seventh to finish out the 8-run victory.
Offensively, Braswell went 3-for-4 for the Bishops, while Aherron finished 4-for-5 to pace Averett.