BURLINGTON, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College softball team pushed the No. 6 team in the nation to the brink of elimination Saturday afternoon in the Conference Carolinas Tournament. However, the sixth-ranked Falcons edged the Bobcats in 10 innings, 2-1. The loss ends the 2017 season for Lees-McRae, and it finishes it with a record of 15-34.
Both pitching staffs were in top form in the contest as there were only 11 combined hits between the two teams. LMC struck first with a sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 1-0, but the Falcons rebounded to tie the score again with a RBI single in the sixth. The score remained knotted at 1-1 until the bottom of the 10th where Makenzie Pennell came through with a two-out RBI single to walk-off the Bobcats, 2-1.
LMC totaled five hits against Pfeiffer Saturday with two of those coming from Valerie Hickey who went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Sarah Tucker, Sarah Stallings and Caitlyn Ray accounted for the other three hits for Lees-McRae.
Senior Taylor Billings, who started the game for the Bobcats, put together one of her best outings of her career Saturday tossing six innings where she allowed just one run on two hits. Kara Cunningham came in to relieve Billings in the seventh, but was tagged with the loss. Cunningham, who saw her record dip to 7-13 with the loss, pitched three-and-two-third innings and allowed just one run on four hits.
Looking ahead to the 2018 campaign, the Bobcats will have quite a bit of experience set to return to the field. Overall, Lees-McRae is set to bring back 17 players from this year's team, but it will lose five seniors to graduation in Billings, Stallings, Hickey, Sarah Beth Ashley and Charlie Dutton.