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Sami Long
Sami Long

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Belmont Softball extended its win streak to four with a pair of victories to open the Winter Warmup on Friday at E.S. Rose Park.  The Bruins (5-2) shutout Cleveland State (7-3), 1-0, before holding off a late rally to win 2-1 over North Dakota (3-8).

Game one saw a scoreless pitchers duel for the first four complete innings.  Sophomore Brooklin Lee (Burns, Tenn.) remained nearly unstoppable inside the circle, recording seven strikeouts through those first four stanzas, including striking out the entire side in the top of second.  However, the Vikings hurler, Macy Kaisk, was also successful in her efforts, only allowing one Bruin to reach base during the same stretch. 

Finally, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Belmont made its move to post a run first.  Junior Chelsea Thomas (Hot Springs, Ark.) smacked a single to left to open and a sacrifice bunt by classmate Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas) advanced the baserunner.  Junior Taylor Hargrove (Greenbrier, Tenn.) exposed fast feet as a pinch runner, stealing third base.  Freshman Elison Ollinger (Robins, Iowa) knocked a single up the middle to notch what would become the lone run of the game.  Only one Cleveland State player would make it to base in the top of the sixth as senior Jess Andree (Darien, Ill.) made back-to-back great plays to keep them off the board.  BU maintained its stranglehold through the top of the seventh frame.  Even with both pinch hitters and pinch runners, CSU was unable to get a tying run over the plate as Belmont held on for the 1-0 victory, marking its second shutout of the season.  

The nightcap almost looked like a duplicate of the first game.  North Dakota was aggressive in the top of the first, plating a run but the Bruins fired back in the bottom of the second inning.  Baker unleashed a hard single up the middle and was followed by a single to left by classmate Baylee Cook (Lewisburg, Tenn.).  Junior Sami Long (Springfield, Ill.) sent a ball screaming down the right field line to knot the score before stealing second base.  Sophomore Bailey Sims (Flowery Branch, Ga.) drove a single deep to left center to give the Bruins the lead, 2-1.  

BU held onto its one-run lead handily until the Fighting Hawks threatened in the top of the fifth frame.  A single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases for UND but Cook made a pair of great catches in left field to keep North Dakota off the board and maintain Belmont's run advantage.  In a last gasp effort, UND hunted for a tying run in the top of the seventh inning.  Despite adding pinch hitters and runners, Belmont stood strong against the late push and used a fly ball catch by freshman Cheyenne Cavanaugh (Spring, Texas) to end the game, sealing the 2-1 win for BU.

For the day, Sims batted .714, going 5-for-7 with a double and an RBI to lead BU.  Batting .500 were Thoma, Long and Ollinger.

Inside the circle, each Bruin who saw action tossed a complete game.  Lee earned the win over Cleveland State, with 10 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA.  Senior Lexi Rouse (Macon, Ga.) finished with a pair of strikeouts against North Dakota en route to recording her second win of the season.

BU returns to action on Saturday for day two of the Belmont /TSU Winter Warmup at Rose Park.  The Bruins host Fort Wayne beginning at 12:15 p.m.  Live stats will be available for the contest.