DUNCAN, S.C. – Converse (2-26) softball lost two close games to the visiting Owls of Mississippi University for Women (12-8) on Wednesday afternoon at Tyger River Park. The Valkyries committed five errors in their 4-2 game one loss and only managed one run in game two, falling 6-1.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 2, MUW 4
The Valkyries threatened in the bottom of the first, putting runners on first and second with one out. Jena Massing started things with an infield single and moved to second after an error on the Owls' defense. However, three quick outs kept the Vals off the scoreboard.
MUW struck first in the top of the third, scoring three unearned runs. Carolyn Wilkinson tallied a two-out, two-RBI single while Kristen Martin also contributed an RBI single in the frame. Converse was presented a golden opportunity in the bottom of the third after Allison Plafcan singled and Mariah Blackmon doubled to deep left center, putting two runners in scoring position with two outs, but a strikeout ended the inning.
Converse finally scratched runs in the bottom of the fifth, trimming the deficit to 3-2 with a pair of runs on two hits. Massing got things going with a single up the middle and advanced to third after Marissa Steadman reached on an error by the Owls' third baseman. A walk loaded the bases, but a groundball cut the runner on the third heading home.
However, Meredith Quarles came through with a clutch hit to plate Steadman before Anna Bennett lifted a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Plafcan to touch the plate. The Owls got one of those runs back in the top of the sixth when Kandler Flora doubled to left center, bringing home Brianna Duquette.
The Valkyries brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the sixth but could not score anything and went down in order in the seventh, allowing MUW to take game one, 4-2.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 1, MUW 6
MUW struck first in game two as well, plating a single run in the second inning after Bailee Watts singled home Carolyn Wilkinson. However, Converse answered in the bottom of the frame with a run of its own. Quarles led the inning off with a double to left center and advanced to third on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Bennett. Makayla Davis grounded out to first, which allowed Quarles to score and knot the game at 1-1.
The tie did not last long as Mississippi University for Women tacked on another run in the visitor's half of the third. The Owls loaded the bases with one out, but were only able to collect a sacrifice fly as starting pitcher Jianna Pellegrino did a great job of damage control for the Valkyries.
Converse had a perfect chance to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth after putting runners on first and third with no outs. Steadman earned a hustle double to lead off and moved to third on a Plafcan single to left center. Unfortunately, the next three batters were retired in order and Steadman was stranded 60 feet away.
The Owls added four runs of insurance in the top of the seventh and Converse went quietly in the bottom of the seventh, allowing MUW to take game two by the final of 6-1.
Converse will be back in action on Saturday, March 17 as it travels to Wilson, N.C. to take on Barton in the Conference Carolinas opener for both teams. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.