Bears start softball season with pair of victories

The two-time defending South Atlantic League champion Lenoir-Rhyne softball team opened its season in style Wednesday, taking both games of a doubleheader against Belmont Abbey.

“We’ll take the wins,” said L-R coach Shena Hollar. “I don’t think they were pretty. We played at their pace. It was a very slow game. We like to get in, get out and get on. We didn’t do that. This is something to work on. For the opener, we’ll take two ‘W’s.’”

In game one, sophomore Haily Jarman connected on a grand slam home run to put the Lady Bears (2-0) ahead.

“I was not expecting it all,” Jarman said of her four-run bomb. “I worked all week in practice making sure we are attacking the pitches in and out. I cleared my head before the game started and wanted to drive in runs to start a rally. It just happened. It was pretty awesome.”

Hollar said a late decision to bump Jarman into the No. 4 spot in the lineup proved to be the right one.

“We were sitting in my office this morning debating,” Hollar said. “Haily wasn’t hitting as well in preseason practice. So we moved her down in the lineup. Great move right? That broke the game open.”

Senior Dawon Millwood, the SAC pitcher of the year in 2011, steadied L-R defensively, tossing a four-hitter, striking out nine batters and walking one.

“I was a little nervous in the first inning, as I’m sure all of us were,” Millwood said. “It’s first-game jitters. No matter how many times you do it, it’s the same.”

Former Bandys standout and current L-R senior second basemen Carlee Carpenter also drove in a run in the game.

The lone run for the Lady Crusaders came on an error by Carpenter, allowing Aleshia Peak to cross the plate.

L-R 7, Belmont Abbey 4

Behind two RBI doubles by Carlee Carpenter that plated a pair of runs, the Lady Bears earned a win in the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday.

Carpenter pulled her groin in pre-game warm-ups.

“Coming out I was really nervous,” Carpenter said. “I think a lot of the upperclassmen were nervous because this is the first game of our last season. Getting out on the field, seeing people hit the ball and people make plays gave us confidence.”

L-R pitcher Megan Laxton threw a complete game four-hitter, allowing three earned runs, five walks and striking out four batters.

Trailing 7-2, the Lady Crusaders attempted a late rally, scoring two runs in the final inning on one hit and one error, but were unable to make up the five-run deficit.

Lenoir-Rhyne next plays this weekend in the Hughston Sports Clinic Classic in Columbus, Ga.

Coach Hollar said the competition at the event should help boost her program.

“This weekend will be a good test to see where we are at,” Hollar said. “We’ll have to play better than we did today, but it will be a good test for us.”