By Matt Green
ROME – The Shorter softball squad extended its winning streak to 14 games with a non-league sweep of former Southern States Athletic Conference rival Southern Wesleyan on Friday afternoon at Alto Park. Game scores were 8-1 and 9-6.
The Lady Hawks (15-1) opened their 2013 home schedule in their newly renovated facility in style, staying hot at the plate to the tune of 17 runs and 28 hits. Southern Wesleyan falls to 10-6 on the season following the pair of defeats.
That was the only run the Warriors could muster in Game 1, as Byrom settled down and did not allow a hit over her final three innings of work. Byrom improved to 3-0 by striking out two in four innings before Ezell entered in relief and closed out the game, fanning eight and allowing just one hit in three innings.
During one stretch, Ezell retired six straight batters by way of strikeout.
The offense took an inning to warm up, but when it did, Shorter's power was too much for Southern Wesleyan.
Whitney Hood tied the game at 1 in the second with an RBI double. Shorter took a 3-1 lead in the third on a Johnson RBI single and Amanda Dailey RBI double then extended its lead to 5-1 on Cooper's two-run bomb over the new 12-foot wall in Alto Park's right center field. It was Cooper's team-high sixth homer of the season and the first at Shorter's renovated complex.
Shorter capped its scoring in the bottom of the sixth, as Kendall Johnson tripled with one out then scored when Castaneda tripled to score her and Cooper, who had walked the batter before. Bre Johnson ripped another RBI single up the middle to score Castaneda for the 8-1 final margin.
The Lady Hawks pounded out 13 hits as Castaneda, Johnson, Dailey and Sarah Corn each tallied a pair of hits. Shorter racked up five extra base hits in the win.
In the nightcap, Shorter used a four-run fourth to rally from a two-run deficit, then leaned on the relief pitching of Maddie Bray and Ezell to close out the Warriors in a 9-6 win.
The Lady Hawks trailed 5-3 after the Warriors used a Ashleigh Wilbur RBI double, Kylie Klim sacrifice fly and Allison Barbee RBI single to take the lead with three runs in the top of the fourth.
Shorter wasted no time responding in the home half, as Cooper laced an RBI double that scored Janell Echols and Kendall Johnson plated Cooper with a hard shot to third to tie the score at 5. Shorter loaded the bases and took a 6-5 lead when Dailey's shot to short was mishandled, scoring Castaneda. Hood followed with an RBI single that scored Kellee Stone and made it 7-5.
The Warriors closed to within 7-6 with a run in the sixth, but the Lady Hawks again mounted a response, this time getting RBI singles from Castaneda and Dailey to go up 9-6.
Ezell shut the door in the seventh to earn the save.
Bray got the win in relief of starter Kristen Little, tossing 2.1 innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on three hits with two strikeouts. Ezell allowed just one hit over 1.2 innings and fanned three in her second relief stint of the day.
Offensively, Kendall Johnson drove in three runs in Game 2 while going 2-for-4 at the plate. Dailey went 3-for-4 with a pair driven in while Cooper, Castaneda and Felicia Morris also tallied multiple base knocks. Shorter totaled 15 hits in Game 2.
The Lady Hawks are back in action tomorrow, Saturday, March 9, when they return to Gulf South Conference play against North Alabama at Alto Park. First pitch in the double header is set for 1 pm.