ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Charlotte 49ers softball team saw its season come to an end at the hands of Saint Joseph's Thursday night at Billikin Sports Center in St. Louis. Playing in the second day of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, the Niners fell, 6-1 to the Hawks. Charlotte concludes its season with a 29-26 record, while Saint Joseph's (22-28-1) moves on to face George Washington in Friday's tournament action.
The Hawks took an early lead, and never looked back, scoring runs in the first, third, and fourth innings to put the game out of reach early.
Saint Joseph's got on the board first, thanks to second baseman Bernadette Moran, who drove in the Hawks' first two runs on a single in the first inning and a two-out triple in the third. The visitors added another run in the third when catcher Lauren Rendon singled to score Moran and advanced to second on a Charlotte throwing error.
The Niners had a base runner in the bottom of the third when Briana Gwaltney reached on a two out fielding error by SJU shortstop Nicole Palase, but the next batter, Samantha Slade, was robbed of a base hit when third baseman Rochelle Christman made a leaping catch to end the inning.
The Hawks struck again in the top of the 4th with three more runs against rookie pitcher Lexi Betancourt to blow the game wide open. With two outs and the bases loaded, a dropped third strike kept the inning alive for Saint Joe's and resulted in the inning's first run. Then, Moran hurt the Niners yet again with a two-run single that gave the Hawks a 6-0 lead.
Charlotte made a pitching change, bringing in sophomore Katie Watkins, who struck out Rendon to end the inning.
Kalie Lang gave the 49ers hope with her second hit of the day in the bottom of the fourth, blooping a base hit just over the head of Palase. The next batter, catcher Jackie Kleinsmith, drilled a ball to Christman that went for a base hit as well. But a force out at third, followed by a Lindsey Holloman pop-up ended the inning.
Rookie shortstop Samantha Slade finally put the Niners on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. Slade's RBI single to left plated Alex Rogers, who led off with a base hit up the middle and advanced to second on Lorena Vela's 16th sacrifice bunt of the season.
Betancourt (15-14) suffered the loss for Charlotte, going 3.2 innings and allowing six runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and two walks. For the Hawks, Erin Gallagher (12-15) earned the win, allowing one run on five hits through five innings of work. She struck out two and walked two.
In the tournament, Charlotte fell to George Washington, 9-2 in the opening game before bouncing back to defeat Temple, 4-2 in their second game.