DUNCAN, S.C. – Junior infielder Anna Bennett had a career-day at the plate to help guide the Converse (2-20) softball team to its first wins of the season, sweeping the Rochester (6-5) Warriors on Friday evening at Tyger River Park. Bennett finished the doubleheader going 4-for-6 with six RBIs and two runs scored as the Valkyries beat RC 5-1 in game one before using a come-from-behind effort (9-6) in game two to complete the sweep.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 5, ROCHESTER 1
Rochester threatened in the top of the first. After the first two batters were retired with ease, the following couple of batters reached on hits, putting runners on first and second with two down. However, starting pitcher Jianna Pellegrino got the next hitter swinging to end the threat and keep the game tied.
The Valkyries had a golden opportunity in the home half of the second, loading the bases with one out, but were unable to push across the game's first run as back-to-back fielder's choices by the Warriors defense retired the Purple and Gold.
That missed chance proved costly for Converse as Rochester broke through on the scoreboard in the top of the third as two defensive miscues allowed the Warriors to take the 1-0 lead.
However, the Valkyries showed poise and took the lead with a three-run third inning, the big blow coming off the bat of Bennett, who connected on a bases loaded triple, clearing the base pads and giving CC the 3-1 lead. Converse tallied a season-high five hits in the frame.
Converse added to that lead with single runs in the fifth and sixth innings and Pellegrino finished off her masterpiece, giving up one hit in the top of the seventh but collected the three outs necessary to lead Converse to its first win of the season.
Pellegrino (1-4) picked up the win after throwing a complete game and allowing just one unearned run while scattering seven hits.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 9, ROCHESTER 6
The nightcap started off differently as Rochester blew the game open early with a five-spot in the top of the first inning. The Warriors capitalized on two errors by the Valkyries defense coupled with five hits. Converse put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the first but failed to touch the plate and trailed 5-0 after one inning of play.
Converse finally was able to put up a run in the bottom of the third. Jena Massing roped a one out double to deep left and was came home on a beautiful piece of backside hitting by Allison Plafcan. Mariah Blackmon followed that with a hit of her own the opposite way to put runners on first and third with two out, but a groundout ended the frame.
The Warriors held on to a 5-1 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth inning, but Converse exploded for eight runs to take its first lead of the contest, 9-6. Bennett continued her hot streak to start the frame, singling to third base before moving to second after Wenz was hit by a pitch. Makayla Davis then laced a double to left field, allowing Bennett and Wenz to score. Erin Rios singled to center, which brought home Davis and cut the deficit to a single run (5-4).
Rochester looked poised to get out of the inning while maintaining the lead, but that was only the beginning of the trouble for the RC pitching staff. After two quick outs, Plafcan was intentionally walked and both she and Rios moved into scoring position following a wild pitch. Mariah Blackmon earned a walk to load the bases before Meredith Quarles coaxed a bases loaded walk to knot the contest at 5-all.
Just like game one, Bennett stepped to the plate with the bases juiced, and just like game one she cleared the bases with a double over the head of the left fielder, giving Converse the lead 8-5. Wenz, batting for the second time in the inning, put the Vals ahead 9-5 with a hard hit ball to center, scoring Bennett from second.
Rochester made things interesting in the top of the seventh, loading the bases, but were only able to score once as Converse held on for the 9-6 win and series sweep.
Hannah Boring relieved Massing on the mound and held the Warriors to a single hit over 3.0 innings, while Marissa Steadman (1-10) picked up the win as she tossed the final three innings allowing just one run on one hit, striking out five.
The Valkyries will be back in action on Tuesday, March 11 as they play host to the Mississippi University for Women at Tyger River Park. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.