AIKEN, S.C. – The Converse (0-2) softball team dropped a double header to USC-Aiken (2-0) on Saturday afternoon to start the 2018 season. A late offensive surge pushed the Pacers past Converse by the final of 4-0 in game one before a final of 16-4 in game two gave USCA the sweep.
Marissa Steadman led the Valkyries at the plate on the day after going 3-for-7 with a double, while Meredith Quarles added two hits and two RBIs on the afternoon. Kelsie Land produced one hit in her five plate appearances and tallied the only other run batted in for the Purple and Gold.
GAME ONE: CONVERESE 0, USC AIKEN 4
Offense was hard to come by in the early innings of the contest as both teams managed just four hits combined over the initial three-plus innings of play. However, Aiken was finally able to break through on the scoreboard in the home half of the fourth inning.
A double to lead the frame off followed by a walk and a bunt single to the pitcher loaded the bases with Pacers with no outs. Back-to-back sacrifice flies made the score 2-0 in favor of the home team. Two, two-out hits padded that lead to 4-0.
The Valkyries managed to put pressure on the Pacers defense in the top of the seventh after consecutive hits with one out placed runners on first and second. However, a fly out and line out ended the threat and gave USCA game one by the final of 4-0.
Steadman was tagged with the tough loss, throwing six innings while allowing four runs on eight hits and walking a pair. Lyndie Dorgan threw a complete game shutout for the Pacers to earn the win, striking out 10 in the effort.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 4, USC AIKEN 16 (5 INNINGS)
Unlike game one, the offenses were on spot to start the nightcap. After a scoreless top of the first for Converse the Pacers came in and took a 1-0 lead when Deja Robinson scored on a fielder's choice RBI by Lilly Shoaf.
The Valkyries came right back in the top of the second with a run of their own to knot the contest at 1-1. Taylor Stewart started the frame with a single up the middle before Hannah Boring ripped a single down the right field line to put runners on first and second. Mckayla Davis coaxed a walk to load the bases. Land then grounded out to short to allow Stewart to score. Unfortunately, the Pacers limited the damage to one run.
USC Aiken took advantage of the missed opportunity and blew the game wide open with five runs on five hits in the bottom of the second inning followed by two more runs in the third to make the score 8-1 halfway through.
Converse scratched a run in the top of the fourth after benefiting from a shaky Pacer defense that allowed Davis to score on a wild pitch.
However, the Pacers came right back in the bottom of the fourth and posted eight more runs, the big blow coming off the bat of Hannah Price, who blasted a grand slam to left field, making the contest 16-2.
The Valkyries were able to score two more times in the top of the fifth when Quarles connected on a two-run shot to left center, but it was too little, too late as Converse dropped game two by the final of 16-4.
The Valkyries will be back in action on Tuesday, February 6 as they travel to Anderson, S.C. to take on the Trojans in doubleheader action. Game one is set to begin at 2 p.m.