BELMONT, N.C. – The Converse College (5-17, 0-2 CC) softball team took a pair of heartbreaking losses against Belmont Abbey (10-6, 2-0 CC) on Wednesday afternoon at Crusader Field. The Valkyries carried a 5-3 lead into the fifth inning of game one before falling 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh. A stellar pitching performance by Marissa Martin in game two was negated when Belmont Abbey scored four times in the bottom of the sixth to take the 4-2 win and doubleheader sweep.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 5, BELMONT ABBEY 6
After two scoreless innings for each team the bats came to life in the third frame. Converse pushed the first runs across with a three-spot in the top of the inning, but Belmont Abbey came back with three of its own in the bottom half.
Hailey Spitler got things started with a single to shortstop before advancing to second on a stolen base. Three consecutive walks by the Crusaders pitching staff allowed Spitler to touch the plate with the first run of the game. Meredith Quarles added an RBI groundout, while Moriah Gomez was hit by a pitch to tally the third run of the frame. However, a pair of doubles in the bottom of the third allowed Abbey to knot the contest at 3-all.
Both teams went dry in the fourth, but Converse jumped back ahead with two runs in the fifth. Marissa Martin reached on a fielder's choice and Spitler advanced her to second with an infield hit. A defensive miscue by BAC allowed both runners to score, giving the Vals a 5-3 lead.
However, that was the last run Converse would score and Belmont Abbey posted single runs in the final three innings, including the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh, to steal game one by the final of 6-5.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 2, BELMONT ABBEY 4
Converse wasted no time pushing a run across in the second game, plating one run in the top of the first. With runners on first and second, Allison Plafcan singled to right center, allowing Spitler to score and give the Valkyries an early 1-0 lead.
The Valkyries defense was stellar behind starting pitcher Marissa Martin, who allowed only one hit through five innings. Converse doubled its lead in the top of the sixth with a Quarles RBI fielder's choice.
However, Belmont Abbey put together a critical four-run bottom of the sixth, the big blow coming off a two-run homerun by Payton Whitley, giving the Crusaders a 4-2 lead heading into the top if the final inning.
Converse was retired in order in the top of the seventh, dropping the contest 4-2 as well as the doubleheader on the afternoon.
Converse will return to the diamond on Saturday, March 9, traveling to Charlotte, N.C. to take on Johnson C. Smith in non-conference action. Game one is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.