CU softball sweeps FHU

LEBANON -- Megan Lavery went 2-for-2 in both games of Cumberland University’s doubleheader sweep of TranSouth Conference foe Freed-Hardeman University, as the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to five games with 5-0 and 5-4 wins over the Lions Tuesday.

Cumberland (19-13, 8-4 TranSouth) improved to 12-2 at home with the two victories and moved into sole possession of third place in the league.

The Bulldogs missed several scoring chances but produced single runs in five of the six innings in the first game, beginning with Allison Blackwood’s seventh home run of the year. The solo shot with two outs in the first inning was enough offense for sophomore, who also pitched a complete-game shutout.

Blackwood (8-7) worked around a walk and two singles, all coming with one out, in the second inning with a pair of strikeouts to end the threat with the bases full. The Leoma, Tenn., also got out of trouble in the fifth and seventh innings as the Lions (8-11, 3-3) had leadoff hits in both innings.

The Cumberland defense also came up big on several occasions, including helping Blackwood to a three-pitch sixth inning. Victoria Bennett made a running back-handed snag in the left-center field gap to rob Samantha Stricklan of a would-be extra-base hit and Meghan White put out Betsy Pickler running toward the fence and stretching out to snare the ball that nearly went over the left fielder’s head. Blackwood induced a groundout on the next pitch to end the frame.

Stephanie Gutierrez, who registered a hit in both contests to extend her hitting streak to 15 games, singled to start the second inning and advanced on a sacrifice bunt and one of Lavery’s singles before scoring on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Caity Gray.

Gray drove in another run in the fourth inning with a single that plated Nicole Swann, who reached on a fielder’s choice. Cumberland also got hits from White and CaSarah Gilliam in the inning but were unable to score any additional runs, leaving all three runners on base.

A leadoff walk to Blackwood turned into a run thanks to the speed of pinch runner Christina Manis. The Station Camp High School product was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Heather James and moved to third on Gutierrez’s groundout to short. The speedster came home on a pitch that got away from catcher Bailey Morgan, putting the Bulldogs on top 4-0.

Cumberland’s final run of the first game came after a double by Lavery, who was named the Music City Star of the Game, started the sixth inning. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Gilliam reached on a two-out error by Augusta McClary.

Cumberland 5, Freed-Hardeman 4 (Game 2) -- The Lady Bulldogs needed all five runs in the second game as FHU scored twice in the seventh and had the tying run at third base when Gray induced a game-ending groundout.

Gray earned her third save of the year to preserve Courtney Maynard’s victory. The win was the third in as many decisions for the freshman, who gave up one unearned run in four innings.

Cumberland scored all five of its runs in the second inning, sending 11 batters to the plate, the first five of whom produced hits and all but one of which reached base.

Gutierrez led off with a double and James plated the first run with a two-bagger of her own before a single by Lavery. Gray delivered a two-run double to make it 3-0 in favor of the home team.

Amber Mayne followed with a single before Manis reached on an error by McClary to load the bases. Gilliam hit it back to the pitcher, who threw Gray out at home. Bennett singled in a run and Blackwood drove in the final tally of the inning with a fielder’s choice.

Cumberland travels to Pulaski, Wednesday for the second doubleheader of the year between the Bulldogs and Martin Methodist College. CU snapped a 28-game losing skid to the RedHawks with a win in the second game of the twinbill at home on March 15.