CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Behind a dominant record-tying performance in the circle from senior Lexi Betancourt, Charlotte softball (28-21) downed UNCG 7-1 Tuesday evening at Phillips Softball Complex.
Betancourt carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and picked up the first two outs before a single through the left side gap ruined her chances for her second career no-no bid. However, with the eight-K, one-walk performance, she tied the school record for career wins at 69 (set at the end of the 1991 season by Courtney Hankes).
“I knew it was in the realm of happening sometime in the rest of the season,” Betancourt said of the record, “but I try not to think about that, because I don’t win games by myself. My whole team is there and we win it together. It helps, going into each inning, knowing I had a lot of run support like I did.”
“We saw a phenomenal pitching performance from Lexi, taking that no-hitter all the way into the sixth,” head coach Aimee DeVos said. “Incredible performance by her, one of the better games I’ve seen her throw in awhile. It was great that it was here at home, and she deserves every bit of it.”
“Offensively, we had a slow start, so we were all kind of holding our breaths waiting for that inning to happen, and when it did, we pounced on it.”
A six-run fourth inning propelled Charlotte to victory, breaking both the hitting and run stalemate.
Leadoff hitter Emma Ocker stepped into the box, taking the third pitch she saw and sending it in the air to shallow right field. The ball dropped, and continued to roll, ending up at the fence as Ocker picked up her Conference USA-leading fourth triple of the season, and moves her to second all-time amongst Charlotte freshman, currently behind teammate Haley Pace (5).
Ocker then broke the blank, scoring on a single from designated player Bailey Rhoney that poked through the left side gap. Pace and third baseman Grace Beatty then followed up with Charlotte’s third and fourth straight hits, both up the middle to load the bases.
Freshman Meredith Harris then followed up, reaching via Spartans’ fielding error, to bring Rhoney home and continue to keep the bases full. Classmate Lizzy Birch then took four straight balls to trot down for a walk, which allowed Pace to come home and still no outs.
After a UNCG pitching change, a failed pickoff attempt on a foul swing from right fielder Erin Powers resulted in a two-base throwing error, bringing both Beatty and Harris home and giving Charlotte the 5-0 lead.
Powers then reached on a fielder’s choice, as she hit the ball to the shortstop, who tried to get Birch out at home, but she beat the throw and plated the Niners’ sixth run of the inning.
The defense was behind Betancourt all the way, including an absolutely unbelievable diving catch by freshman Kiersten Berrier in the fifth, who followed it up with a catch she tracked back to the center field fence.
After UNCG’s Lindsay Thomas spoiled Betancourt’s no-hitter with a single through the left side gap, the Spartans moved her up via fielding error, and then her twin sister Nicole doubled to right field to bring her home and avoid the shutout.
The Niners evened the advantage back the bottom of the frame, as catcher Taylar Byrne reached a miscue from the third baseman, advanced on yet another UNCG error, and made it to third on a fielder’s choice. She then scored on a sac fly from Rhoney to ultimately make the score 7-1.
Charlotte heads out on the road for a quick three-game series at league foe Middle Tennessee beginning Saturday, April 30.