FERRUM, VA.- The Randolph softball team opened its 2018 season on the road Sunday with a doubleheader against Ferrum. The Panthers took both games by the scores of 4-3 and 7-3.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Randolph struck first. Lauren Morris (Troy, N.C./West Montgomery) led off with single down the right field line and Blair Epperson (Nathalie, Va./William Campbell) pinch ran. Dianne Davis (Zuni, Va./Isle of Wright) then singled to left field advancing to third base on an error by the left fielder. That allowed Epperson to score to put the WildCats on the board 1-0. After Brittany Campbell (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) popped up to third, Jordyn Knapp (Woodbridge, Va./C.D. Hylton) reached on an error by the Ferrum first baseman that allowed Davis to score and Randolph ended the top half of the inning ahead 2-0.
The Panthers answered in the bottom portion. With one out, Lois Carpenter hit a homerun to center to get Ferrum on the board. WildCat starting pitcher Lindsey Chaney (Charlottesville, Va./The Covenant School) was able to get out with minimal damage as she struck out two batters and gave up just a single.
Ferrum tacked on another run in the fifth to knot the score at 2-2. With one out in the top of the sixth, Campbell doubled to right field and Sarah Reed (Luray, Va./Luray) came in to pinch run. Knapp then fouled out to the catcher. Reed advanced to third on a passed ball. Alexis Steljes (Charlottesville, Va./The Covenant School) singled to shortstop to bring home Reed and the 'Cats had a 3-2 lead.
Randolph still held its 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. Ferrum started the inning getting the leadoff runner, Courtney Rudd, on base. Maddie Ols sacrificed bunted Rudd over to second. Jordan Hamlett came up and singled to centerfield to score pinch runner Olivia Boyd. Hamlett moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Keri Hamlett walked. Tiffanie Moore reached on a fielder's choice and Keri Hamlett was out at second. The WildCats needed one more out to secure the win but Cheyenne Strickland singled down the left field line to bring in Jordan Hamlett and Ferrum were walkoff winners.
Cheney took the loss for Randolph. She went 6 2/3 innings giving up nine hits and four earned runs. She walked two batters and struck out six.
Courtney Lucado (Buchanan, Va./James River) collected three hits and was 3-for-4. Steljes was 2-for-2 with a run batted in. Campbell's double was the only extra base hit for the WildCats.
In the second game, Locado put Randolph on the board with a one-out homer to left field in the top of the first. Ferrum countered with a three-run bottom half to take the lead back. The Panthers would tack on two more runs in the second to go ahead 5-1.
The Wildcats started to rally in the third. Taylor Craft (Altavista,Va./Altavista) led off with a single and moved to third on a Morris centerfield single. Davis reached on a fielder's choice that allowed Craft to score. Abbi Pannill (Prince George, Va./Prince George) then singled to left to score Davis and Randolph now trailed 5-3.
That was all the offense could muster as Ferrum added a run in the bottom of the third and another in the fifth. Randolph led off the seventh with a Lucado double to center. She would move to third but not score as Becca Montgomery (Lancaster, S.C./Laney) grounded out to end the game.
Gracyn Allen-Ingle (Gibsonville, N.C./Eastern Alamance) went only 1 2/3 innings in the circle. She surrendered seven hits, seven runs (five earned) and a walk while striking out one. Pannill came in relief and gave up three hits, two runs (one earned), and four walks. She struck out five.
Lucado was 2-for-4 with a double and a homerun, one run scored, and one run batted in. Pannill hit 1-for-2 with a run batted in.
Randolph travels to North Carolina next weekend for the Grand Slam Triangle Classic. The WildCats face Maryville (TN) at 10:00 a.m. followed by Rowan at 12:00 p.m.