Courtesy University of Central Arkansas Athletics Department
The Central Arkansas softball team got their season started off on the right foot Friday night, defeating host Belmont 3-1 in their first game of the Belmont Spring Kickoff Tournament.
The Bears (1-0) got their first run of the season when first baseman Ashley Boswell came to the plate in top of the second inning. With the bases empty and two outs, Boswell lofted a pitch over the center field fence to give Central Arkansas a 1-0 lead.
The Central Arkansas bats were quiet until the top of the fourth inning, when the middle of the lineup came to life. Right fielder Sam Forrest laced a single to center field, and, following a pop up to the pitcher, advanced to second on a walk by Boswell. A single by designated player Taylor Dear loaded the bases for pinch hitter Jessie Taylor, who poked a single up the middle, scoring Forrest and extending the lead to 2-0. With the bases still loaded, the Bears again called on their bench. They were rewarded again when pinch hitter Lindsay Elliot reached on an infield single to the pitcher, driving in Boswell and pushing the lead to 3-0.
The Bruins finally got on the board in the top of the fifth. Left fielder MJ Lawson reached base on a fielder’s choice to start the rally. A pop up to second base was followed by a single to center by right fielder Kat Hollingsworth. Amanda Criscione came on to run for Lawson and advanced to third on a single off the bat of second baseman Kirbie Ferrell before first baseman Jordan Daly drew a walk to bring home Criscione and cut the lead to 3-1. A strikeout ended the Belmont threat.
The Bruins threatened again in the bottom of the sixth inning, when a leadoff walk and a throwing error gave them runners at the corners with no outs. A stolen base quickly increased the pressure, but Central Arkansas ace Kelsie Armstrong buckled down, forcing a foul-out to third base, earning a strikeout, and getting a foul-out to right field to shut down the Bruins.
Armstrong (1-0) picked up the win for the Bears on the back of a masterful complete game performance in which she struck out nine, walked three, and allowed only three hits. Brittanie Albright (0-1) took the loss for Belmont, giving up all three Central Arkansas runs in 3.1 innings pitched. She gave up six hits and two walks while striking out two Bears. Taylor Moon came on in relief and pitched well, fanning four Central Arkansas hitters and issuing two free passes while allowing three hits in 3.2 innings of work.
Central Arkansas returns to the field on Saturday at 11:15 in the morning. They will face Western Illinois and Jackson State in back-to-back games. The second game is scheduled for a 1:30 start.