Jefferson City, Tenn. - Behind the strength of three second-inning home runs, top-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne (38-8) downed Lincoln Memorial (27-23), 8-5, Wednesday in the opening round of the 2011 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Softball Tournament at the Lady Eagle Complex.
With the win, Lenoir-Rhyne moves on to face fifth-seeded Wingate (31-13) Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Wingate defeated Tusculum (30-16) by a 2-0 score in its first round tournament contest Wednesday morning.
A five-run second inning helped the Bears jump out to a 6-0 lead after two innings of play and L-R was able to hold off a Lincoln Memorial rally to take the win.
The Bears, ranked No. 8 in NCAA Division II, opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on an RBI double by freshman third baseman Haily Jarman (Wadesboro, N.C.).
In the second inning, L-R junior catcher Sarah Atkins (Newport News, Va.) and senior outfielder Brandi Haithcock (Snow Camp, N.C.) hit solo home runs before senior shortstop Kat Rivers (Royston, Ga.) capped off the frame with a three-run round-tripper.
Lincoln Memorial, the eighth seed in the tournament, got on the board thanks to a two-run home run by Bridget Eicher (Hicksville, Ohio) in the top of the third but L-R answered when sophomore Megan Laxton (Taylorsville, N.C.) connected on a run-scoring single in the bottom of the frame.
The Lady Railsplitters plated three in the fourth inning highlighted by Jackie Adams' (Columbus, Ohio) two-run single to cut the margin to 7-5 but Haithcock rounded out the scoring with an RBI double in the fifth.
Haithcock led the Bears with two hits and two runs batted in while Atkins added a pair of hits and two runs scored in the victory.
Laxton held Lincoln Memorial scoreless for four innings in relief in picking up the win and improving to 5-1 on the season while the Lady Railsplitters' Katie-Jo Gentry (Calhoun, Ga.) fell to 9-14 on the year after being tagged with the defeat.
Lincoln Memorial faces Tusculum in an elimination game Thursday at 11:30 a.m., at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tenn.