GREENWOOD – The Lander softball team ended the regular season in thrilling fashion as the Bearcats swept UNC Pembroke with a pair of walk-off wins on Senior Day at Doug Spears Field.
Lander (31-17, 11-9 PBC) clinched their first 30-win season since 2003 and their first winning record in conference play since 1998. UNC Pembroke (24-24, 2-16 PBC) fell to .500 on the year. The Bearcats can enter the PBC Tournament as either the five or six-seed.
The Bearcats opened the scoring in the bottom of the third as Jace Bennefield launched her second career home run over the left-centerfield wall.
The lead would hold until the top of the sixth inning, when UNCP's Tatum Brummitt homered to centerfield, tying the score at 1-1.
UNC Pembroke threatened in the top of the seventh, but McKenzi Ferguson stranded the go-ahead run at third with a strikeout to end the frame. Brianna Surrento led off the bottom of the seventh and sent the second pitch of the at-bat over the wall in centerfield for a walk-off home run.
Ferguson (20-7) allowed just one run on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts, while UNCP's Malerie Leviner (9-12) surrendered two runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Lander wasted no time taking the lead in game two as Casey Wooten scored from third on an error to put the Bearcats up 1-0 in the first inning. The Bearcats added two more in the bottom of the second as Bennefield drew a two out walk and moved to third on a Wooten single.
Wooten advanced to scoring position by stealing second base as the senior broke the school single-season and career steals record with her 32nd steal of the year and 81st of her career.
Both runners then came home on an RBI single from Sydney Grimes.
UNC Pembroke battled back, plating runs in the third, fourth and seventh innings to tie the score at 3-3.
Grimes opened up the bottom of the seventh with a double off the centerfield wall. Kasey Rogers singled to put runners on the corners and Grimes raced home on a wild pitch to give the Bearcats the sweep.
Ferguson (21-7) earned her second win of the day, tossing a scoreless inning of relief. Breezy Yelton (9-6) took the loss for UNCP, allowing four runs on six hits with three walks in 6.1 innings.