Greenville S.C. – Senior Hannah Pace belted a three-run, walk-off homer in game one and Furman rallied from a pair of two-run deficits in the nightcap to complete a 5-2, 6-5 doubleheader sweep of UNCG in Southern Conference softball action on Saturday afternoon at Pepsi Stadium.
The sweep improved the Paladins to 19-18 overall and 6-4 in SoCon play while upping their record at Pepsi Stadium in 2014 to 8-2. UNCG slipped to 15-20 overall and 3-8 in league play.
With game one tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Ambree Muller started the frame with a double to left-center field off UNCG starter Raeanne Hanks. Lauren Collier lined a one-out single to left field to put runners on the corners and Pace followed with a walk-off blast off of the scoreboard in left-center to hand the Paladins a 5-2 victory.
Collier, who held UNCG to just two runs on five hits over eight innings of work, picked up the win to improve to 11-9 in the circle. The right-hander worked around four hit batters and two walks while fanning five Spartans.
The Paladins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning. Taylor Jenkins reached on a one-out, infield single and scored when Sieara Bishop lined a double to the base of the wall in right-center field. Jenkins advanced to third on a wild pitch and raced home on Muller's sacrifice fly.
Katelyn Bedwell lined a two-run double down the left field line to even the game at 2-2 in the third inning. The game remained scoreless until Muller and Collier's hits set up Pace's walk-off heroics in extra innings.
Muller went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles in the series opener while Jenkins, Collier and Pace each registered two hits to ignite Furman's 12-hit attack.
Hanks (7-12) took the loss for the Spartans after allowing five runs on 12 hits in seven and 1/3 innings in the circle. She walked three Paladins and recorded six strikeouts.
In the nightcap, Alex Sappington tossed her first career complete game and the Paladins scored four of their six runs with two outs en route to a 6-5 win over the Spartans.
Lindsay Thomas, who went 3-for-3 with a homer and a pair of doubles, put UNCG on the board with a two-run blast in the top of the first. Furman got on the board in the bottom of the second on Muller leadoff blast to right-center. Elise Smith and Kalie Hicks followed with walks before Pace singled to left-center to tie the game at 2-2.
After UNCG regained the lead at 4-2 on Toni MacReynolds' pinch hit, two-run double in the top of the fourth, Furman exploded for three runs in the bottom of the frame. Smith walked and moved to third when Natalie Clemmons singled with two outs. Stephanie Spain knotted the game with a two-out, two-run single up the middle and scored the go-ahead run on Nikki Legg's single to center field.
The Spartans tied the game on Thomas' third hit of the day before Furman pushed across the eventual winning run in the bottom of the fifth. Muller reached on a two-out walk and stole second before scoring on Smith's single through the right side.
Sappington allowed five runs on seven hits in seven innings to up her record to 4-1. The New York, N.Y., native walked two batters and fanned a career-high five in the win.
Clemmons paced the Paladins with two hits while Jenkins doubled for the Purple and White.
Lacey Leary (4-3) suffered the loss for UNCG. She gave up six runs on eight Paladin hits in six innings.
Thomas led the Spartans going 3-for-3 with a double and a homer.
The Paladins and Spartans cap their three-game series with a single game at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Pepsi Stadium.
Fans can log onto www.FurmanPaladins.com for free live stats of Sunday's game and watch free streaming video of the contest for a subscription fee. In-game updates will be available on Twitter by following @FurmanSoftball.