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Furman Edges Mercer In Series Opener, 3-2; Paladins Earn Doubleheader Split

Lindsey Bert
Lindsey Bert

Game 1: Furman 3, Mercer 2

Game 2: Mercer 5, Furman 1

Macon, Ga. -- A pair of home runs accounted for all the offensive Furman would need as the Paladins claimed a 3-2 victory over Mercer in game one and a split of Saturday's Southern Conference softball doubleheader at Sikes Field in Macon, Ga. The Bears rallied for a 5-1 victory in game two.

Senior Hannah Reynolds delivered a solo home run in the top of the second inning, her 10th long ball of the season, and Carolina Cash hammered a two-out, two-run blast to center field the following inning to stake the Paladins to a 3-0 lead.

Senior Lindsey Bert (24-8) cruised through the first six innings before running into trouble in the seventh. Emma Andrew helped Mercer avoid the shutout with a solo home run with one out. After Bert retired the next batter, Mercer registered three consecutive singles to trim the Furman lead to 3-2 and put runners at second and third with two outs. Bert got Laurenne Sanchez to bounce out to first base to end the threat and preserve the victory for the Paladins.

The left-hander allowed just two runs on seven hits over seven innings of work. She walked just one batter, while recording 13 strikeouts. With the win, Bert tied Janine Turner's 30-year-old school record of 24 victories in a single season by a Paladin hurler. Bert's 13 strikeouts versus the Bears also made her just the second pitcher in SoCon history to top 300 strikeouts in a single season.

Megan Bilgri (10-7) took the loss for Mercer despite surrendering just three runs on three hits over seven innings. She walked three batters and fanned six.

In the night cap, Mercer plated four runs in the bottom of the third inning to erase an early 1-0 Furman advantage en route to a 5-1 triumph over the Paladins.

Bert put the Paladins in front in the top of the first with a solo home run with two outs in the frame. With Furman still leading 1-0 in the bottom of the third, Mercer got three straight singles to load the bases with nobody out before Paladin starter Emily DeMonte recorded an out on a fly ball to left field. Megan Lane tied the game with an RBI ground out to shortstop and Caroline Taylor followed with a three-run homer to hand the Bears a 4-1 lead.

Mercer starter Stella Preston held Furman to a single run on two hits over seven innings to improve to 11-4 in the circle. She fanned eight Paladins without issuing a walk.

DeMonte (13-3) took the loss for Furman after giving up five runs, four earned, on nine hits over six innings. She struck out three and walked two in the loss.

The Paladins (37-13, 9-6 SoCon) and Bears (32-16, 11-4) will conclude the regular season with a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday at Sikes Field. Furman will secure for the No. 3 seed for the upcoming SoCon Championship with a victory on Sunday. Live statistics for the series finale can be found at FurmanPaladins.com.

Mercer and Furman will take part in the SoCon Softball Championship at UNCG Softball Stadium in Greensboro, N.C., May 9-12.