Harkins’ grand slam caps big comeback as Patriots split DH

Harkins’ grand slam caps big comeback as Patriots split DH

FLORENCE, SC – Freshmen catcher Sarah Harkins hit a grand slam homer to cap an eight-run sixth inning that allowed Francis Marion University to rally from a seven-run deficit and claim a wild 12-11 win over Newberry College on Sunday (Feb. 9) and a split of a non-conference softball doubleheader.  Newberry captured an 8-5 victory in game one, sending the Patriots to their first loss of the season.

FMU (7-1) will be back in action when it hosts its annual Patriot Invitational Tournament next weekend, February 14-16. On Friday, the Patriots will face Chowan University at 3 p.m. and Mercy College at 5 p.m.  FMU will play two games on Saturday (Chowan at 1 p.m. and Mars Hill University at 5 p.m.) and one game on Sunday (Mars Hill at 2 p.m.).

Sunday's come-back win was also the 450th for Vallee at FMU, in this her 16th season. She is the winningest coach in program history with a 450-302-1 mark.

In the second contest, Newberry (5-1) took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Patriots tied the game 2-2 in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a two-out throwing error. The Wolves went on to score two times in the second and three in the third to lead 7-2.

An RBI grounder by sophomore first baseman Addie May brought the Patriots to within 7-3 in the third. Each team then scored once in the fourth (FMU on an RBI-single by sophomore Janecia Hemingway) and the scored remained 8-4 heading to the sixth. Newberry scored three times in the top of the sixth to assume an 11-4 advantage.

In the bottom of the sixth, the young Patriot squad rallied to score eight runs and take a 12-11 lead. The first four runs came home on run-scoring singles by freshman right fielder Carson Shannon and May and on bases-loaded walks to junior infielder Ashtyn Patterson and sophomore center fielder Danielle Karacson.  All that preceded Harkins' first collegiate long ball that completely erased the Newberry.

Freshman right-hander Rachel Davis (2-0) was the beneficiary of the late rally, while junior righty Katelyn Ellard got the final two outs and stranded the potential tying run on second to earn her first save of 2020 (and the fourth of her career).

Hemingway finish the second contest with three hits, while Shannon and freshman shortstop Megan Matsil both had two.

Ellard (3-1) started Sunday's opening game and was tagged with the loss.  She surrendered nine hits and seven runs in 5.1 innings, while striking out three. Davis pitched the final 1.2 innings of the opener.

The Patriots scored first in the fourth inning on a 2-run double to left by Karacson. Newberry responded with eight unanswered runs to hold an 8-2 edge heading to the bottom of the seventh.

Shannon lined an RBI-double to left and, one batter later, freshman designated player Savana Rosson drilled a two-run homer over the left centerfield fence to trim the Wolves' lead to 8-5. FMU did get one more base runner on, before senior right-hander Selice Daley (3-0) recorded the final out and posted the complete-game effort.

Junior left fielder Jordan Carlson was the lone Patriot with multiple hits in game one.


Post-game comments from FMU head coach Stacey Vallee and freshman catcher Sarah Harkins


Newberry College 8, Francis Marion Univ. 5 (Feb 09, 2020 at Florence, SC) (Game 1)
Newberry College.... 000 026 0 -  8 11  1      (5-0)
Francis Marion Univ. 000 200 3 -  5  7  3      (6-1)
Pitchers: Newberry College - Selice Daley and Reagan Glanz. Francis Marion Univ. -
Katelyn Ellard; Rachel Davis(6) and Sarah Harkins.
Win-Selice Daley (3-0)  Loss-Katelyn Ellard (3-1)  T-2:37  A-136
HR FMU_SB - Savana Rosson (1).
Weather: Sunny,clear,52,winds NNW@2 mph
Francis Marion Univ. 12, Newberry College 11 (Feb 09, 2020 at Florence, SC) (Game 2)
Newberry College.... 223 103 0 - 11 13  1      (5-1)
Francis Marion Univ. 201 108 X - 12 11  2      (7-1)
Pitchers: Newberry College - Alyssa Ball; Ivy Hayes(4); Kinslee Wilson(6); Kylee Barry(6) and
Victoria Eaton. Francis Marion Univ. - Janecia Hemingway; Amie Hutchison(4); Rachel Davis(6);
Katelyn Ellard(7) and Sarah Harkins.
Win-Rachel Davis (2-0)  Save-Katelyn Ellard (1)  Loss-Kinslee Wilson (0-1)  T-2:53
HR FMU_SB - Sarah Harkins (1).
Weather: Sunny,clear,52,windsNNW@2 mph
Wilson faced 3 batters in the 6th.