Bobcats open season with three-game sweep

Bobcats open season with three-game sweep

RALEIGH, N.C. --- The Lees-McRae College softball team opened the 2012 season in dominating fashion on Saturday, sweeping a trio of contests against Saint Augustine's College, Shaw University, and West Liberty University at Walnut Creek Park while outscoring their opponents by a margin of 40-1.

Lees-McRae (3-0) began the day with a 19-0 win over Saint Augustine's (0-2) in four innings before defeating Shaw (1-2) by a tally of 18-0 in five frames. The Bobcats then closed out the day with a 3-1 win over West Liberty (1-2). The Bobcats tallied 32 total hits on the day, including 11 doubles, while driving in 26 runs; Lees-McRae's pitching staff allowed one run on seven hits while recording 21 strikeouts.

Kim Coley (Marion, N.C.) and freshman Kristen Oakes (Lenoir, N.C.) paced the Bobcats with five hits on the day, as Coley laced four doubles and drove in four runs. Oakes and Brooke Sheridan (Rosman, N.C.) each tallied four RBI, as Sheridan and Amanda Decker (Apex, N.C.) each posted four base knocks.

Laurel Gregg (Mars Hill, N.C.) opened the season for the Bobcats with a four-inning no-hitter against Saint Augustine's, striking out seven and walking four. Holli Crickenberger (Boydton, Va.) followed with a four-hit shutout against Shaw, as Oakes took the circle against West Liberty and allowed one run in seven innings, surrendering three hits and striking out 11.

Game One - Lees-McRae 19, Saint Augustine's 0 (Four innings) (Box Score)

Oakes led the way for Lees-McRae with a 3-for-4 performance, scoring three runs and driving in three more. Lori Fulmer (Prosperity, S.C.) added two RBI, while Decker scored three and drove in two. Gregg dominated in the circle, pitching four shutout innings while striking out seven and walking four.

The Bobcats got on the board in the first, taking an early 1-0 lead when Karli Robb (Hayes, Va.) scampered home on a passed ball. After Lees-McRae doubled the advantage to 2-0 in the second, the Bobcats plated six runs in the third to widen the gap to 8-0 in a frame that included RBI base knocks by Fuler and Decker.

Lees-McRae broke the game open in the fourth, plating 11 runs on six hits and two Falcon errors. After Sheridan doubled to right and Kierstie Moon (Oxford, Ga.) walked to load the bases, Sheridan and Decker scored when Robb reached on a Falcon error to push the lead to 13-0. Oakes would rope a two-run single later in the inning, before Fulmer laced an RBI double and Decker plated a run with a single to right to cap the scoring.

Game Two - Lees-McRae 18, Shaw 0 (Five innings) (Box Score)

Coley and Sheridan paced the Bobcats against Shaw, each plating four runs as Coley and Crickenberger both tallied three hits. Crickenberger made the start and pitched the full five innings for the Bobcats, scattering four hits and striking out three en route to LMC's second shutout of the day.

The Bobcats broke the game open in the first, scoring 11 runs on six hits and two errors. After Moon and Robb drew back-to-back walks and Lindsey Huntsinger (Asheville, N.C.) reached on an error to open the frame, Coley roped a bases-clearing double to give the Bobcats a 3-0 advantage. Crickenberger added a two-run double later in the frame, as Huntsinger drove in a pair of runs with a single to left. Coley and Fulmer capped the inning with an RBI double and a one-run single, respectively.

Lees-McRae added to the lead in the fourth, plating two runs to stretch the margin to 13-0 on a two-run double by Sheridan. The Bobcats then plated four runs in the fifth to equal the final margin of 18-0, collecting three hits and taking advantage of three Shaw errors, as Sheridan drove in two with a double to left in the frame.

Game Three - Lees-McRae 3, West Liberty 1 (Box Score)

Oakes and Alison Armstrong (Bellingham, Mass.) led the way for the Bobcats against West Liberty, each driving in a run as Coley collected a team-high two hits. Oakes starred in the circle for the Bobcats, allowing one run and scattering three hits across seven innings while striking out 11 Hilltoppers.

The Bobcats scored each of their three runs in the first, posting three hits and taking advantage of two West Liberty errors in the frame. After Moon dropped in a leadoff single and the Hilltoppers retired the next two batters, Coley stroked a single to center and Oakes reached on an error, plating Moon to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead. Coley then scored on an error before Armstrong plated Oakes with an RBI single to push the margin to 3-0.

West Liberty struck back in the third, cutting the margin to 3-1 with a sacrifice pop out to left. Oakes responded with four shutout innings, allowing four base runners over the final four frames to close out the win.

Lees-McRae returns to the diamond on Sunday when the Bobcats take on host Fayetteville State University at 1 p.m. at Walnut Creek Park in Raleigh, N.C.

- LMC -