DUE WEST, S.C. – The Anderson University softball team wrapped up its nonconference slate by erupting for 15 runs on 21 hits, including four home runs, as the Trojans swept archrival Erskine, 4-0 and 11-2, Thursday afternoon at the Erskine College Softball Complex.
Combining the offensive output with exceptional pitching efforts in the circle, Anderson (29-9) defeated Erskine (11-17) for the fifth consecutive time. The Trojans, who were playing their sixth game in five days, won their fifth straight decision and have claimed wins in eight of their last 10 outings, while Erskine saw its win streak halted at two.
Anderson 4, Erskine 0
Sophomore Molly Child momentarily tied senior Abby Child for the team lead in home runs, with her 10th of the season – a two-out, two-run shot in the seventh inning. She also added a fourth-inning single, while junior Jessica Neidigh was 2-for-4 in the opener, with a double and a single. Junior outfielder Rebecca Martin recorded the game-winning hit – her career-best seventh home run of the season in the fifth inning. Junior third baseman Bri Cason also singled and scored in the fifth inning.
Freshman hurler Augie Pena (6-1) tossed the two-hit shutout for her second complete game of the season. The right-hander, who entered the game ranked second in the South Atlantic Conference in strikeouts per contest, struck out six of the first seven batters she faced, and finished with a season-high 12 punchouts on the afternoon.
Neither team managed to get a runner in scoring position until the fourth inning, with Molly Child recording a leadoff single for AU’s first hit of the day. Fleet senior Ashlyn Hicks garnered a one-out single in the bottom of the frame and moved to second on a wild pitch, but Pena escaped with no damage by striking out the next two batters.
Martin led off the fifth inning with her seventh home run of the season to give the Trojans the lead and two batters later Cason reached on a single. Senior Charlotte Sieber moved Cason into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and she scored on Neidigh’s two-out double, boosting the Trojan lead to 2-0.
Molly Child’s 10th homer of the season, with Neidigh on first in the top of the seventh inning, gave Anderson an additional pair of insurance runs and the Trojan defense set the Flying Fleet down in order in the bottom of the inning for the victory.
Anderson 11, Erskine 2 (6 innings)
Abby Child briefly regained the team lead in home runs with her 11th of the campaign – a solo blast to lead off the decisive third inning. The shortstop added a run-scoring single in the first inning and walked once. Molly Child ended the scoring in the third inning with a two-out grand slam – her 11th round-tripper of the season.
Freshman right-fielder Courtney Czentnar was 3-for-4 in the nightcap, with three singles in four trips to the plate. Martin drove in three runs with a double and a single, while senior Danielle Swygert added a double and a single and scored twice. Senior catcher Laura Jansky was 1-for-3 in the nightcap, with a two-run double.
Starting pitcher Katelynn Howser, who improved to 10-4 on the season, and freshman right-hander Lauren Rudesheim combined to limit the Flying Fleet to just five hits over six innings. Howser struck out three and walked one in three innings of work, while Rudesheim issued one free pass.
Anderson quickly plated two runs in the top of the first inning to take a lead it would not relinquish. The Flying Fleet countered with a solo run in the bottom of the frame to climb within a run, but would get no closer.
The Trojans sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the third innings and exploded for seven runs in the frame. Abby Child led off the inning with a solo homer and Molly Child capped the scoring with the Trojans’ second grand slam in four games.
Erskine’s Ericka McCarson recorded a one-out home run in the bottom of the inning to make the score 9-2, while AU added a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning to take an 11-2 lead. The Flying Fleet were unable to push a run across in the bottom of the inning, with Anderson claiming the run-rule decision.
With the win in the opener, Anderson clinched possession of the coveted Beville Cup for the second straight year, fourth time in five years and sixth time in the last eight years. Originally known as the Anderson/Erskine Cup, it is a competition between Erskine and Anderson’s athletics programs that was established in the fall of 2003 and is sponsored by ARAMARK in order to promote and enhance the rivalry between the Trojans and Flying Fleet, whose campuses are separated only by 20 miles.
The winner of the Beville Cup each year has the award presented each spring to its student-athletes and coaches by the losing athletics director, traditionally at their postseason banquet/awards night.
The Trojans currently hold an 8.0-2.5 advantage for the 2013-14 seasons, with two points from men’s and women’s tennis to be determined next week in Due West. There are also 2.5 academic points that have yet to be determined.
Anderson returns home to host South Atlantic Conference-opponent Catawba on Saturday. First-pitch versus the Indians at Smethers Field is set for 2 p.m.