Article Image
Courtesy: Charlotte Sports Information
View Photo
Niners Triumph 8-3 in Ten Innings for Series Sweep at Middle

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.—Charlotte softball (31-21, 10-11 C-USA) picked up its second Conference USA sweep of the season after a triumphant 8-3 win over Middle Tennessee in 10 innings Sunday in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The Niners banged out 11 hits in the contest, with four players collecting two each- sophomores Bailey Rhoney and Erin Powers, and freshmen Emma Ocker and Meredith Harris. Rhoney turned in two doubles with a run and RBI, while Powers picked up her second triple of the season with two RBI. Ocker scored twice, bringing her season total to 36 and just and one away from tying the freshman record, and Harris is now ranked eighth  all-time for freshmen in RBI (23) after picking up two today.

Senior Lexi Betancourt delivered another phenomenal pitching performance with a complete game, 11 strikeouts, four hit performance for her 19th win of the season and number 71 of her career. The 11 Ks ties for a season-high, which she has now done three times.

Charlotte broke through the blank in the top of the third, after Ocker beat out an infield single to the first baseman. She then advanced 60 feet on a wild pitch and came home on Rhoney’s first double of the afternoon which she carried to left center.

The Niners added to their lead the following frame, when freshman Lizzy Birch boarded on a hit-by-pitch, advanced on a sacrifice bunt, and came home on Powers’ triple she sent down the right field line.

With a 2-0 lead, the Blue Raiders took advantage of back-to-back walks and a fielding error to plate two and tie the game.

Charlotte regained control in the fifth, as sophomore Haley Pace smoked the ball back up center field for a single, moved up two bases on consecutive wild pitches, and scored on a Harris single up the middle.

MT tied the game once more the bottom of that inning, recording their first hits of the game with three straight.

The game remained knotted up at 3-3 for the next five innings, despite Middle getting runners on in four innings, including a runner to third before Betancourt picked up an inning-ending strikeout to cut off the harm. Six of her Ks concluded the innings.

In the top of the tenth, Ocker led off with her second single of the game, another single she snuck behind the first baseman, and Rhoney repeated the pattern from earlier, doubling Ocker to third. Enter the league leader in RBI, Pace, who placed a tricky ball to the shortstop, who chose to go home and try to get Ocker, who beat the tag, giving Charlotte the 4-3 go ahead run.

The Niners plated four more insurance runs in the frame, after Harris poked a ball through the left side gap to bring home Rhoney, and sophomore Taylar Byrne sent a ball to the left field wall, bringing both Pace and Harris home with her double. The final run came in the form of freshman Alex Paulson, who pinch-ran for Byrne and scored on a Powers single up the middle.

- Charlotte’s 31 wins is the best for the program since 2010, when the team won 40, and is the sixth most wins in program history.

-It was the sixth time this season that Betancourt has taken a no-hitter into at least the fifth inning. She also recorded an almost no-no earlier this week, coming four outs away from a no-hitter against UNCG on Tuesday.

-With her bases-clearing double today, catcher Taylar Byrne has now recorded at least two RBI in six games this season, including a string of five of seven from April 9-April 20.

-After also bringing out the brooms against division opponent Marshall earlier this season, this marks the first time during both of Charlotte’s C-USA tenures to record two sweeps in the same season.

Charlotte will conclude its 2016 regular season hosting West Division foe Louisiana Tech in a three-game series, where seniors Lexi Betancourt and Courtney Carroll will be honored.