WINGATE, N.C. – McKenzi Ferguson earned a win and a save in the circle as the Lander softball team picked up its first road sweep since 2016 with a pair of wins over Wingate on Thursday afternoon. The Bearcats won by scores of 4-2 and 9-8.
Lander improves to 6-0 overall, its best start to a season since 2000. Wingate falls to 3-5 on the year.
In the first game, Lander' McKenzi Ferguson (3-0) earned the win, striking out eight and allowing two runs on six hits in a complete-game effort.
Wingate's Aubrey Reep (2-3) took the loss after striking out nine, walking two and allowing four runs on eight hits.
Lander took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Brianna Surrento singled home Casey Wooten, but Wingate responded with an RBI single from Emma Swenson and a double from Jessica VonCannon that brought Mikayla Hannah home to put the Bearcats up 2-1 in the second inning.
A Bulldog error in the top of the third allowed Sydney Grimes to cross the plate and tie the score before an RBI groundout from Chandler Carey plated Wooten to give the Bearcats a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
Lander tacked on an insurance run in the seventh as Carey drove in Wooten with a single up the middle.
Wooten batted 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Surrento went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
In the second game, the Bulldogs built a 2-0 lead after a sacrifice fly from Jordan Floyd in the first inning and a Swenson home run in the second.
The Bearcats bounced back with a four-run fourth inning as Ashley Vinson knotted the game with a two-run shot over the right-centerfield wall. After Sydney Grimes singled home Abby Harris, a throwing error allowed Wooten to race home and give Lander a 4-2 advantage.
Wingate answered quickly with four runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Emma and Elizabeth Swenson, to take a 6-4 lead.
A Kasey Rogers RBI single in the top of the fifth brought Lander within a run and Kelli McCormack scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Halie Sorrow was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to put the Bearcats back on top and Wooten drew a walk to make the score 8-6 Bearcats.
After Wingate cut the lead to 8-7, Grimes singled to shortstop in the top of the seventh to bring home Wooten. Emma Swenson's solo home run in the bottom of the seventh was not enough as Lander held on for a 9-8 win and the sweep.
Vinson (1-0) earned the win by allowing one earned run in three innings of relief, while Ferguson picked up her first save of the season.
Sam Hogan (1-1) was tagged with the loss for Wingate, allowing eight runs on 11 hits in 4.0 innings.
Wooten, Grimes and McCormack all tallied three hits for the Bearcats.