CONWAY, S.C. – The Converse College softball team opened the 2019 campaign with a pair of losses to Francis Marion on Sunday afternoon. Offense was hard to come by for the Valkyries as they fell by scores of 9-0 and 8-1.
GAME ONE: Converse 0, Francis Marion 9 (6 Innings)
The Patriots wasted no time putting up runs in the first inning. Following a 1-2-3 top half of the frame, Francis Marion struck for four runs in the bottom of the first, the big blow coming off the bat of Jaimie Harney, who connected on a bases-loaded double, clearing the bases and collecting three RBIs.
Starting pitcher Hailey Spitler settled down over the next two innings, allowing just a single run on two hits to help keep the Valkyries in the contest heading to the fourth. However, a pair of sacrifice flies in the bottom of the fourth staked FMU to a 7-0 lead.
After a scoreless fifth for both sides, the Patriots' Jessica Harney connected on a two-run, walk-off homerun in the bottom of the sixth, giving FMU the 9-0, run-rule victory. Gabrielle Cuevas drew a walk in the second inning to account for the lone baserunner for the Vals.
Spitler, in her first collegiate start, took the loss after tossing 4.0 innings and allowing seven runs on as many hits.
GAME TWO: Converse 1, Francis Marion 8
Converse threatened in the top of the first during game two, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Spitler led the frame off with a walk and advanced to second on a Marissa Martin bunt single. However, three consecutive ground balls ended the Valkyries opportunity to take the lead. The Patriots collected a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, but nothing came of it as the Valkyries defense stood tall, sending the game to the second in a scoreless tie.
McKayla Davis singled with two outs in the second but was stranded there as Moriah Gomez's liner was snagged by the FMU third baseman. Janecia Hemingway put the Patriots on the board in the bottom of the second with a one-out solo homerun to left field.
That lead grew to 4-0 over the next two innings as a pair of runs in the third and single run in the fourth helped to stretch the Patriots advantage.
The Valkyries finally broke through with their first run of the young season with a single run in the fifth. Spitler led the frame off with an infield single before coming around to score on a throwing error by the FMU catcher after a sacrifice bunt by Martin. However, the next three batters were retired in order, ending the rally for Converse.
A pair of homeruns and an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth helped Francis Marion blow the lead open at 8-1 in favor of the home team. J. Harney blasted a solo shot to right center before Hemingway collected her second homer of the game, this time a two-run shot to left center. Taylor DeLeon capped the four-run inning with an infield single.
From that point the Valkyries next six outs came in order and Francis Marion took home the doubleheader sweep.
The Valkyries will open the home portion of its schedule on Friday, February 8 as they host Brenau in a twin-billing. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Tyger River Park.