Softball Falls on Opening Day
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - The Belmont softball team got off to a rocky start for the 2011 campaign. The Bruins fell in the opening game of the inaugural 2011 Belmont/Hampton Inn-Brentwood Spring Classic, 2-13 to Wright State. Belmont then lost a 4-9 decision against IUPUI in the final game of the night. Old man winter couldn't stop the teams from coming out and competing as Belmont, IUPUI, Wright State, and Austin Peay all braved the cold weather to start the 2011 season.
After winter-weather forced a change of venue from Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn. to Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tenn., game times were pushed back and match-ups rearranged to accommodate a longer commute. The Bruins faced off against Wright State in the second game of the day for the Raiders and the season opener for Belmont. The Bruins started the game with a 1-2-3 inning defensively before putting the first runner of the game on first base when senior Julie Harmon reached with a base on balls. The offense could not manufacture a run, however, and the first inning ended in a scoreless tie. The Bruins remained tough defensively through the second inning and after two complete innings, the score remained tied at zero.
Things got rocky for Belmont early in the third inning when the first batter singled. The single was part of a four-hit, six run inning for Wright State that included a two-run home run for the second batter of the inning. Starting pitcher sophomore Devon Schmidt was replaced after only one and two-thirds inning and freshman pitcher Mia Vierra made her Belmont debut to finish out the third inning which ended in 6-0 lead for the Raiders. Belmont would manage to score two runs in the fourth inning on the team's lone hit for the game, a two-run home run for the school's single-season home run record holder junior Ashley Byers. The home run was the first of the season for Byers who led the Bruins with 10 homers last season. Belmont would surrender seven more runs after the break-out third inning, including another home run in the fourth inning.
Belmont made adjustments for game two and came out competitive early. Junior Hannah Irwin reached on a single to center field. The Bruins were unable to capitalize and ended the inning with one runner left on base. In the home half of the first inning, Vierra earned her first career start as a Bruin. IUPUI recorded a home run for the first batter of the game. The Jaguars scored another run in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead. The Bruins battled back in the second inning, manufacturing a run of their own after senior Kelly Cash reached on an error by the short stop. Cash eventually came around to score after stealing second and advancing to third and ultimately home on a throwing error by the short stop. Cash's run made the score 2-1.
Starting in the home half of the third inning, it would be all IUPUI until the sixth inning. Sophomore Courtney Elrod came on to pitch in relief of Vierra before later being replaced by Schmidt. The Jaguars recorded eight hits on the night, including three each in the third and fourth innings, to pull away from Belmont. The Bruins would get back on the scoreboard in the sixth inning after a single from sophomore Becca Gift was followed by a home run for junior Stayci Cook. The final score for the last game of the night was 4-9 Belmont. Also scoring a run for the Bruins was junior Amanda Buntin, who scored on an error by the right fielder. For the night, Belmont recorded eight hits on offense while the pitching staff recorded seven strikeouts and surrendered 20 hits.
Other Scores from the tournament: Wright State def. Austin Peay 3-1; IUPUI def. Austin Peay 6-1.
Belmont returns to action tomorrow when they again face IUPUI in a 2:30 p.m. match up at Columbia State. The Bruins will meet regional rival Austin Peay in the tournament's finale at 4:45 p.m. The first annual Belmont/Hampton Inn-Brentwood Spring Classic kicks off at 10 a.m. with IUPUI meeting Wright State. The second game of the day will pit Wright State against Austin Peay.