Charlotte, N.C.- Timely hitting and a team effort across the board for the Niners allowed Charlotte (12-15, 4-7 C-USA) to pick up its first Conference USA series sweep of Middle Tennessee (7-28, 2-9 C-USA) on Sunday afternoon, 3-1 and 10-5. The series between the Niners and Blue Raiders was cut short due to rain in the area yesterday afternoon forcing the two teams to play two of the three on Sunday.
"We had to come out and be very aggressive offensively and establish ourselves early and get a lead," said Coach Aimee DeVos. "It was a great team effort in the pitching circle, we used our entire pitching staff, which was great."
In one of the best fielding days the Niners have had all season, Charlotte committed one error in 14 innings of play. The lone error came on a tough throw from third in game one. Middle Tennessee committed two in the night cap. "We have put alot of work into our defense. Unfortunately/fortunately with the rain outs we have been able to practice a little more and be able to work on that."
Jessica Plemmons (Lexington, N.C./ North Davidson HS) led the way for the Niners at the plate going 3-5 from the plate with a home run, her sixth on the season, and three RBI to push her to 25 on the season.
Natalie Capone (St. Charles, Ill./ St. Charles North) and Jackie Kleinsmith (Santa Maria, Calif./ Righetti HS) went 4-8 at the plate in the doubleheader. Capone grabbed a double and a triple to go with her two singles. Kleinsmith doubled and homered picking up four RBI, all in the night cap.
Chelsea Lisikatos (Cold Springs, N.Y./ Haldene HS) and Courtney Carroll (Clemmons, N.C./ West Forsyth HS) tallied three hits apiece. Two of the three hits for Carroll went for extra bases grabbing a double and a triple in the night cap. Carroll tallied a career high four RBI. Lisikatos hit a triple to pick up an RBI to finish off the day.
Charlotte took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Capone doubled down the left field line and moved up 60 feet after a Samantha Slade (Apex, N.C./ Apex HS) grounder. Kleinsmith delivered the first run of the game for the Niners with a base knock up the middle.
The Blue Raiders answered back in the top of the third inning tying things at one apiece. Middle Tennessee picked up three hits in the inning to plate its first run of the game off a Nina Dever double.
The Niners tallied two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Sam Slade singled down the left field line. Jes Plemmons cleared the fences with a towering shot to right field.
The two runs in the bottom of the third inning was all the Niners needed for a 3-1 victory as neither team scored in the final four innings.
Middle Tennessee had a look at making some noise in the top of the seventh inning. Lead-off batter LaRi Mitchell singled up the middle to open the inning. Mitchell tried to catch the Niners sleeping breaking for second base and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. With bases loaded, Lexi Betancourt struck out Cheyenne Willis to end the game.
Lexi Betancourt (Garner, N.C. / West Johnson HS) picked up her tenth win of the season tossing a complete game allowing one run off nine hits and striking out six. Caitlin McClure picked up the loss and fell to 2-8 on the season allowing three runs off five hits in three innings of work. Shelby Stinnett pitched the final three innings allowing four hits and dished out four walks.
The Blue Raiders jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the opening frame of the night cap. Kayla Toney and Laura Dukes worked back-to-back two out walks to start the MT rally. Nina Dever doubled to center field for the first run of the game.
The Niners respond in the bottom half of the inning posting four runs off five hits in the inning. Sam Slade started the inning with a single through the left side of the infield. Kleinsmith picked up her fourth home run of the season sending a blast out to left field and gave the Niners a 2-1 lead. Chelsea Lisikatos and Chelsea Ingersoll (Charlotte, N.C./ Butler HS) picked up back-to-back hits to keep the rally alive with two outs. Courtney Carroll picked up her first triple of the year scoring Lisikatos and Ingersoll for the 4-1 lead.
Middle Tennessee tied things up at four apiece in its half of the third inning. Sam Nieves and Kalya Toney recorded back-to-back hits followed by a Laura Dukes walk to load the bases. Cheyenne Willis unloaded the bases with a three run double into the right center gap to tie things up at four-all.
Charlotte posted a run in the bottom half of the third inning to take the lead once again. Jes Plemmons worked a walk to open the inning. Kleinsmith singled up the middle putting Plemmons into scoring position. Plemmons moved up 60 feet swiping third base. Carroll picked up her third RBI of the game with a single to center.
MT responded with a run of its own in the top of the fourth inning to the second tie of the game, 5-5. LaRi Mitchell doubled to left center field and came around to score on a Toney single to center. Charlotte would keep the Blue Raiders off the board in the final three innings.
Charlotte would take the lead for good in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Ingersoll worked a two-out walk. Carroll would come through once again with a double to right field tallying her fourth RBI of the game.
The Niners would not stop in the fifth inning building a comfortable 10-5 lead where it would stay in the bottom of the sixth inning pushing across four more runs. Natalie Capone tripled to center field to open the inning. Sam Slade drew a walk and swiped second to give the Niners two base runners in scoring position. Plemmons hit a RBI sacrifice fly to give the Niners a 7-5 lead. The Niners would string together three extra base hits by Kleinsmith (double), Lisikatos (triple) and Ingersoll (double) to give the Niners a comfortable 10-5 lead.
Lexi Betancourt (11-8) picked up the win in the night cap pitching the final 3.1 scoreless innings giving up three hits. Chelsea Lisikatos got the start in the circle and moved to third after two innings of work allowing one run off a hit and two walks. Mackenzie Hauser (Lexington, N.C./ North Davidson HS) allowed four runs off six hits and three walks in 1.2 innings of work.
MT's starter Jordyn Fisherback was pulled after two-thirds of an inning allowing four runs off five hits in the first inning. Shelby Stinnett (2-11) picked up the loss allowing six runs off eight hits and three walks in the final 5.1 innings.
Charlotte returns home for a mid-week contest against North Carolina on Wednesday, April 2 under the lights at 6pm. The match-up with the Tar Heels will be the Niners Strikeout Cancer game.