BANNER ELK, N.C. -- Belmont Abbey broke a 2-2 tie with a seven-run sixth inning, leading the Crusaders to a split of a Conference Carolinas softball doubleheader Saturday at Lees-McRae. The Bobcats took the opener 13-8, while The Abbey won the nightcap 9-2.
Payton Whitley hit three home runs as part of a 5-for-7 afternoon. She drove in seven runs and scored five times.
- Whitley was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and four runs batted in. She hit a pair of home runs.
- Melissa Neyhouse and Claire Doyle each had a pair of singles.
- Starting pitcher Annabeth Watkins (8-10) took the loss. She faced just six batters, allowing four hits and a walk against one out.
- Jordanna Shorts closed the game in relief, covering the last 5.2 innings. She gave up 11 hits and eight runs, although only four were earned.
- Kara Cunningham improved to 8-6 with the win. Over 6.2 innings, she allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits and two walks. She fanned six.
- Lees-McRae jumped out to a 6-0 lead after one inning, but the Crusaders never quit. They got on the board on a sacrifice fly by Doyle in the second, only to see a two-run home run by the Bobcats in the bottom of the frame.
- Whitley did the same in the top of the frame to make the score 8-3 before LMC plated three in its at-bat.
- Whitley homer again in the fifth, plating Neyhouse, then The Abbey added three in the sixth. Shelby Tracy led off with a pinch-hit over the centerfield fence, then Morgan Smith drove in two with a double down the left field line.
- However, the Bobcats got their third home run of the contest for two insurance runs in the sixth and closed out the game.
- Doyle had a career-high four hits, including an RBI double. She also scored a run.
- Four other players had a pair of hits -- Neyhouse, Whitley, Smith and Minona Hardin.
- Ivorie Maltby (6-8) threw a complete-game eight-hitter. She walked three and struck out one in allowing the two runs.
- Cassidy Largen (3-2) took the loss, lasting 5.2 innings. Only four of the nine runs she allowed were earned.
- Belmont Abbey opened the scoring in third on a two-out home run to right field by Whitley. The Abbey added another run in the fifth on an RBI single by Smith, but the Bobcats used a sacrifice fly and single to even the game at 2-2 after five.
- The Crusaders broke the game open in the sixth, scoring seven runs. Katie Allison led off with a single and took third on an error. Hardin singled through the right side to put BAC ahead, 3-2.
- Two outs later, Doyle singled in Hardin, followed by an error and single to load the bases. Whitley singled, then Smith was hit by a pitch to fill the bases again. A walk to Allison made the score 7-2, then Hardin doubled to the gap in left center.
- Belmont Abbey steps out of conference play on Tuesday and Wednesday for road doubleheaders at UNC Pembroke and Queens. The former is a makeup of a rainout on Feb. 23.