Softball wins a pair on opening day of ODAC tourney

Conner English pitches a softball.

Salem, Va. -- Senior right-hander Conner English (Altavista, Va.) hurled two shutouts for the Lynchburg College softball team Friday, leading the Hornets to a pair of Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament wins and into Saturday's winner's bracket semifinal.

Third-seeded LC took down No. 6 seed Eastern Mennonite, 8-0 in five innings, in the afternoon contest before downing second-seeded Randolph-Macon, 4-0, in the second matchup of the day at the James I. Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, Va.

The two wins set up a showdown with No. 5-seeded Emory & Henry at 2 p.m., the winner moving into Sunday's championship.

English tossed 12 shutout innings on the day and allowed just four hits over the two victories. She struck out seven Royals and six Yellow Jackets and walked just one batter. The senior is now riding a 21-inning scoreless streak.

The Lynchburg offense also got it done in the wins, starting the tournament with hot bats. LC pushed across five runs, all with two outs, as the team batted around in the bottom of the first inning against Eastern Mennonite. Junior first baseman Mackenzie Chitwood (Ferrum, Va.) started the rally with a one-out single up the middle and came around to score on a single by sophomore shortstop Kayla Hugate (Chesterfield, Va.). Sophomore designated player Sarah Commons (Glen Allen, Va.) followed Hugate with another RBI single, bringing home senior second baseman Leslie Bourgeois (Bealeton, Va.), who reached on a fielder's choice.

Lynchburg loaded the bases with a walk to sophomore left fielder Carol Oberhelman (Washington Township, N.J.) before junior catcher Brittany Coffey (Manassas, Va.) cleared them with a three-run single in the right-center field gap for a 5-0 Hornets lead.

LC broke the game open an inning later with Commons' three-run triple down the right-field line that cleared the loaded bases.

Meanwhile, English cruised in the circle. EMU's only baserunners of the mercy-rule-shortened game came on a leadoff walk in the first and a leadoff single in the second, and the righty stranded both baserunners.

English took that momentum into the nightcap, retiring the first nine Randolph-Macon hitters she faced.

LC took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Coffey's RBI groundout brought Hugate across home plate.

The Hornets made it a comfortable 4-0 lead in the fifth on a three-run home run by junior third baseman Taylor Mabry (Bassett, Va.). Senior outfielder MacKenzie Mount (Forest, Va.) started the rally with a pinch-hit single to left field. Chitwood smacked a two-out single to extend the inning before Mabry's blast to dead center field.

The Yellow Jackets, who are ranked fourth in Division III in the NFCA Coaches' Poll, got runners to second base in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings but could get them no farther as English polished off her second shutout of the day.

Lynchburg's win streak now sits at a season-long nine games, and the Hornets are 30-10 in 2018. The Hornets have now won at least two games in each of the past six ODAC tournaments.