MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Franciscan softball faced a familiar foe at the Fastpitch Dreams Tournament as the Lady Barons went up against Sarah Lawrence in a pair of games Thursday afternoon. Franciscan walked away with an 11-4 win in the first game before dropping the second, 8-3.
"We played pretty well in both games," complimented head coach Jim Walker. "We have gotten better each time out and that's really the purpose for coming down here. The possibility of coming home .500 or better is an extremely positive step for this program.
Once again, Jordan Cunningham had a stellar performance in the circle for the Lady Barons in game one. Cunningham threw all seven innings and gave up just four runs on seven hits, only one earned. The Chester, WV native did not surrender a walk and struck out one batter.
"Jordan really did a great job today keeping the hitters off balance," remarked Coach Walker. "She forced the opposing hitters to put the ball on the ground and the defense made plays behind her."
Franciscan and Sarah Lawrence traded runs in the first inning but the Lady Barons really got the scoring going in the top of the second. Anna King sacrificed Cunningham and Kayla Anderson to second and third before Anna Ames singled to center to bring home Anderson. With two outs, freshman Dennise Carrazco singled to right field and took second on the throw, allowing Ames and Cunningham to come home. Senior Lindsey Finch followed with a triple to right center to score Carrazco and give the Lady Barons a 5-1 lead.
"Dennise has just been on fire for us at the top of the lineup," continued Coach Walker. "She has given us the best opportunity to get our offense going at the top of the line since I have been here."
Franciscan added to its lead in the third with an RBI double from Cunningham. After Sarah Lawrence got three back in the third, Franciscan showed up its base running IQ and got two back. Anna Fluharty singled to center to score Kathleen Thompson. Ashley Kondracki struck out swinging but good head's up base running from Fluharty and Finch allowed the pair to complete a double steal. Finch came home on a throwing error by the Sarah Lawrence catcher.
The bottom half of the Lady Baron line up continued to produce for Franciscan as they pushed the FUS lead to 10-4 after the fifth. Ames reached base attempting to lay done a sac bunt that brought home Cunningham and pushed Anna King to third. Ames promptly stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Finch plated the final run of the inning with a sac fly to left, bringing home King.
"Anytime the bottom half of our line up is hitting as good as they are is a great thing," said Coach Walker. "We were starting to feel a little top heavy but we are starting to get things going with our 7-8-9 hitters and when that happens, we are really hard to beat. Anna Ames has been extending the order for us and that's really important to our success."
Fluharty tacked on Franciscan's final run in the top of the seventh off a RBI fielder's choice that brought home Ames.
The second game didn't fare the same results the first did but Walker was still happy with his team's overall performance.
"I think we just kind of ran out of gas in the second game," said Coach Walker. "Over all Amanda (Pulice) pitched pretty well and tried her best to keep us in that game. There was just one tough inning. Overall, our pitching has been a pleasant surprise this year and when we get Jalyn (Effertz) back, we will have a pretty decent pitching staff."
Franciscan held a slight 3-2 lead after the third inning but Sarah Lawrence tied it up with a run in the fourth. SLU tacked on three in the sixth and two in the seventh to take a 8-3 win from Franciscan.
"Kayla Anderson had a pretty good day at the plate," concluded Coach Walker. "She's another kid that struggled a little out of the game but is starting to pick things up. Our freshman are really hitting the ball well."
Franciscan concludes its spring break trip tomorrow as the Lady Barons take on Keystone at 9:30 am before squaring off against Rutgers-Camden at 3:30 pm.