Softball Gets Clutch Wins

Softball Gets Clutch Wins

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Augusta State (30-12, 11-5 PBC) got fantastic pitching performances from Emily Headrick and Heather Hughes and some timely offense to notch a Peach Belt Conference sweep over Flagler (34-16, 11-9 PBC).

Augusta State entered the game ranked fourth in the first NCAA Southeast Region poll released Wednesday, while Flagler was sixth, setting up a conference and regional showdown that did not disappoint.

In game one, Headrick out-dueled Saints ace Donna Manufo, who boasted the sixth-best earned run average in the nation coming in. Both pitchers blanked the other team for three innings before each ran into trouble in the fourth.

Flagler struck first – a misplayed fly ball allowed Alona Personius to reach third with nobody out, and Lauren Bessent's RBI single put the Saints up 1-0 two batters later.

But the Jaguars immediately answered. Kristen Jones singled through the left side with one out, and Jessica Thornton made her Senior Day memorable with a no-doubt blast to left center field for a 2-1 margin in ASU's favor.

Headrick (15-4) did the rest, finishing her 12th complete game of the season in style. She struck out five and allowed just three hits along with the unearned run. Manufo (16-4) took the loss despite a great effort, allowing four hits in five innings. She struck out five and walked two.

In the finale, Heather Hughes (10-6) notched her third complete-game shutout on the season by allowing just five baserunners all game. Kalyn Loverich (10-8) gave up three runs in three innings for the loss.

The Jaguars got two in the second to take the early lead. Lauren Yeargan opened the inning by reaching on an error, and was bunted over to second by Kaitlin Harris. Macy Terry followed with an RBI double to center field for a 1-0 advantage. Renae Kimbell singled up the middle to move Terry to third. Gabi Medina entered as a pinch-runner for Terry. Kimbell stole second and induced a throw, allowing Medina to score.

ASU got another run in the third, after Jones and Thornton each walked and Yeargan reached on an error to load the bases with one out. After a flyout, Terry was hit by a pitch to bring Jones home and make it 3-0.

Terry (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Thornton (1-for-4, R, 2 RBI, SB) and Kimbell (2-for-4, SB) led the Jaguar attack on the day.

Parsonius and Robyn Draper each had two hits to pace Flagler.

Seven seniors were honored in a special ceremony before the first game: Emily Headrick, Kacee Camp, Kristen Jones, Jessica Thornton, Kaitlin Harris, Renae Kimbell, and Heather Hughes. In addition, Ken Thornton tossed out the ceremonial first pitch.

ASU returns to the diamond Sunday, April 15 when they host No. 6 Armstrong Atlantic State in a PBC doubleheader beginning at 2:00 p.m. at Jaguar Field, before heading to USC Aiken Tuesday, April 17 starting at 4:00 p.m.