Bearcats sweep Southern Wesleyan as Vinson flirts with no-hitter

Bearcats sweep Southern Wesleyan as Vinson flirts with no-hitter

CENTRAL, S.C. – The Lander softball team used complete-game shutouts from McKenzi Ferguson and Ashley Vinson to earn a road sweep over Southern Wesleyan on Thursday afternoon.  

Lander (27-17) picked up its first back-to-back shutouts since 2012 as the Bearcats held the Warriors (8-37) to just five hits in 13.0 innings. Ferguson limited SWU to three hits in an 8-0 win, while Vinson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of a 6-0 Bearcat victory. 

The Bearcats seized control of game one in the first inning as Casey Wooten scored on a double steal and Kasey Rogers added a sacrifice fly to put Lander on top 2-0. A two-run single from Wooten in the top of the second doubled the Bearcat lead to 4-0. 

Lander tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning on RBI singles from Sydney Grimes and Kelli McCormack to push the advantage to 6-0 as Ferguson continued to silence the Warrior bats. An RBI single from Halie Sorrow in the fifth inning and a groundout from Dariean Ward that plated McCormack in the top of the sixth put the game out of reach.

After giving up a two-out double in the bottom of the first, Ferguson (18-7) would not allow a Warrior to reach second base the rest of the game, scattering three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in 6.0 shutout innings. SWU's Josie Edwards (0-11) took the loss after allowing seven runs on eight hits with four walks in 4.2 innings. 

Game two would play out in similar fashion as Lander struck twice in the first inning. After reaching on a leadoff infield single and stealing two bases, Wooten came on to score on a fielder's choice. Chandler Carey laced a two-out single down the left field line to plate McCormack and give the Bearcats an early 2-0 advantage. 

Rogers tripled home McCormack and Carey followed with an RBI single in the top of the third to increase the lead to 4-0. Lander added another run in the top of the fourth on a two-out RBI double from Grimes that brought Wooten all the way home from first. 

Vinson issued back-to-back walks with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but induced a pop up and a groundout to second to keep the no-hit bid intact. 

With a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Vinson allowed a one-out walk before a Maddie Ward single to left field gave the Warriors their first hit of the game. A strikeout and a grounder to first base kept SWU off the scoreboard and Lander added a final insurance run in the seventh inning when Grimes hustled all the way around for an inside-the-park home run to make the score 6-0 Bearcats. 

Vinson (4-1) would allow only a bunt single and a walk in the seventh to complete the shutout. The freshman allowed two hits on the day, striking out five and walking five in her second consecutive complete game. 

Southern Wesleyan's Hunter Hoskins (8-21) was tagged with the loss after surrendering six runs on 11 hits with two walks in 7.0 innings of work. 

Lander returns home Saturday for a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader against Young Harris at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m.