GREENWOOD – The Lander softball team pounded out 18 hits and 14 runs as the Bearcats recorded their first season-opening sweep in three years, defeating Mars Hill 6-2 and 8-3 in a non-conference doubleheader at Doug Spears Field on Thursday afternoon.
The Bearcats moved to 2-0 on the season, while the Lions dropped to 0-2.
"I saw a lot of determination and energy today," said head coach Glen Crawford. "We got great pitching from Bri and Ferg and Ashley today and we put together some timely hitting and made a couple of nice defensive plays."
In the first game, Lander's Brianna Surrento (1-0) earned the win after striking out two, walking two and allowing two earned runs on three hits in five innings. Ashley Vinson tossed two innings of scoreless relief for the Bearcats.
Mars Hill's Christiana Marasa (0-1) was saddled with the loss for the Lions. Marasa allowed five runs on seven hits with two walks in five innings of work.
The Bearcats jumped on the Lions early as Lander loaded the bases without a hit in the bottom of the first. Ashley Vinson drove in her first career RBI with a sharp groundball to right field and Kelli McCormack's hard grounder down the third base line plated another Bearcat run. An error from Lion second baseman Shae Condon allowed Surrento to score and Halie Sorrow capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to right field to give Lander a 4-0 lead.
Mars Hill got on the board in the top of the third as the Lions loaded the bases with one out. Ashley Evans' single to right field cut the Bearcat lead to 4-1, but Lander escaped additional danger on a force out at home plate and a batter called for being out of the box to end the inning.
Lander answered in the bottom of the third as McCormack led off with a single and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Casey Wooten. McCormack then stole third and came home on an RBI groundout from Sorrow.
The Lions trimmed the lead to 5-2 in the top of the fifth on a groundout from Marasa that plated Ragan Broome.
The Bearcats manufactured a run in the bottom of the sixth when Sydney Grimes led off with a walk and stole second base. Jace Bennefield singled to put runners on the corners, then worked herself into a rundown that allowed Grimes to score from third.
Vinson and McCormack both batted 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Bearcats.
In game two, the Lions grabbed the early momentum with a leadoff homer from Broome in the top of the first, but Lander responded with a three-run blast from Surrento to take a 3-1 lead.
Mars Hill tacked on two runs in the top of the third to tie the game, as Krista Romine's sac fly brought home Hollie Norris and Kayleigh Jonas knotted the score with an RBI single to right field.
Surrento led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and pinch-runner Katie Painter stole second before coming home on a Vinson single to put the Bearcats back on top.
Vinson struck again in the fifth inning. After Wooten slid up a tag on a sac fly from Surrento, the freshman launched her first career home run, a two-run shot over the left field wall to put Lander up 7-3.
McKenzi Ferguson (1-0) earned the complete game victory for Lander, striking out nine batters while allowing three runs on eight hits with one walk. Casey Stanek (0-1) took the loss for Mars Hill after four runs on five hits with one strikeout in four innings.