Huntsville, Ala. - The University of Alabama in Huntsville captured the top seed in the upcoming Gulf South Conference Softball Championships with a pair of victories over visiting No. 10 North Alabama on Sunday evening in front of a record crowd of 551 fans. The Chargers romped to an 11-3 victory in the day's first game before holding off the Lions for a 4-2 triumph in the nightcap.
UAH moves to 35-13 (23-6 GSC) with the victories, while the Lions slip to 38-16 (21-13 GSC).
Weather threatened the cancel the contests that started three and a half hours late, but a determined Charger team worked hard once the rain stopped falling to prepare the field for action before treating the fans to the doubleheader sweep.
Game One – UAH 11, UNA 3
With the hosts trailing 3-2 in the home half of the fourth inning and the bases full of Chargers, Mark Kelley took a 2-2 pitch and served it into right field to plate Mallory McNeal, Meagan Billingsley and Brianna Sullivan while putting the Chargers ahead 5-3 with just the one swing of the bat. The double was the 18th of the season for the junior All-American as she advanced to third on the throw that attempted to get Sullivan out at home.
The heads-up decision to move to third allowed Kelley to score on Cortney McNett's single into right, and the Chargers would tack on a sixth run in the inning when Nicole Bobrowski singled to plate Morgan Hopkins who was running for McNett.
The six-run frame started with a bases loaded walk drawn by Sullivan before Kelley's big hit.
UAH would add three more runs in the fifth with Sullivan, McNett and Kathryn Whitlock all driving in runs in the inning, and the Chargers would end the game early in the sixth when Billingsley knocked in Bobrowski who led the inning off with a double down the left field line.
Kimberly Jack (14-4) tossed the final 2.2 innings, not allowing a run while striking out one to earn her team-leading 14th victory of the season. Scattering four hits over 3.1 innings for the Chargers was starter Whitney Toler, while Haley Barnette (11-9) earned the loss for the Lions.
Before the big offensive outburst, it was a defensive show in centerfield that excited the crowd.
With UNA threatening to draw first blood in the game, Mallory McNeal threw a perfect strike from the outfield to nail Harlie Barkley at the plate as she attempted to score on a Callie Steadman single after she doubled to begin the game. In the second frame, McNeal again turned in a terrific effort as she covered a large amount of ground before diving to her right to rob Shelby Goodman of a hit.
The Chargers capitalized and struck first when McNett doubled in Sullivan in the third before UNA scored three times in the fourth.
The UAH catcher finished the contest a perfect 4-for-4 with three RBI to match Kelley's run-producing effort. She was joined by Kelley and Bobrowski who both tallied recorded a multi-hit games with two each as UAH outhit UNA by a 13-8 margin.
Game Two – UAH 4, UNA 2
Whitney Gilbert allowed just four hits across five innings and gave up just one earned run in picking up her 10th victory of the season, and Jack pitched the final two frames to seal up the 4-2 win.
Neither team was able to do much in the contest, but the Chargers grabbed an early lead when McNeal singled in the second to plate Whitlock who had began the inning with a leadoff double into left. UAH would go up by another run later in the frame when Kellie Johnson singled to left to provide a 2-0 lead for the home side.
The score would remain that way until the fifth when the Chargers would add another pair of runs.
With one out, Kelley drew a free pass and then scampered from first all the way home when McNett recorded her team-leading 18th two-bagger of the season. Providing the team with back-to-back doubles, Whitlock notched her second extra-base hit of the game to score McNett and put the Chargers ahead 4-0.
Ashley Bonner would hit a two-run shot to straightaway center in the sixth to cut the UAH advantage in half, but Jack would induce a game-ending double play in the UNA seventh to give the Chargers the sweep.
McNett and Whitlock both recorded a pair of hits as McNett increased her season batting average to .425 in the two games.
Courtesy UAH Media Relations