DEMOREST -- The Piedmont College softball team cut its magic number to two wins with a doubleheader sweep of Covenant College on Tuesday, winning game one 8-0 in six innings before needing just another six frames to end game two with a 10-2 scoreline.
The Lady Lions are now 19-1 in conference play and need just two more wins in their final four conference games this weekend to clinch a second straight USA South regular season title in just two years as a conference member.
In game one, senior Brittney Head tossed an absolute gem as she allowed just one hit and no runs as the lone base knock came on a bloop single in shallow left that no one could get to in the 4th inning. Head struck out 11 today and did not issue a single walk as that used to be the story of her season though now the attention has turned to the streak of 35 innings pitched that Head has not given up an earned run.
The last time she allowed an earned run was in the 2nd inning of a win over NC Wesleyan back on March 21st. Head has not even given up a single score, earned or unearned, in the last five starts she has made in the circle as her veteran presence and arm are a big reason Piedmont has been able to win 27 of its last 28 games.
Piedmont picked up its first run in game one on a Jessica Perschka RBI double as she drove in Abby Smith from third after the Piedmont third baseman had reached earlier in the inning on a base hit as she went three for three with three runs scored in the opener. For Perschka, the double was her 10th of the season and she would pick up her team-leading 11th in game two as she sits in the top four in all the USA South in that category.
A four-run 4th then blew things wide open for PC as the Lady Lions scored their quartet on six hits with Whitney Wolfe putting the first quarter in the merry-go-round as she singled through the left side to make it a 2-0 lead scoring senior Lauren Head. The next Lady Lion would put up another RBI single as Abby Atkinson knocked in a run with Smith crossing the plate once again.
Later in the inning, Piedmont slugger Olivia Duncan then singled in a pair blasting a Covenant pitch back up the middle to pick up her first two RBIs on the day. Duncan would finish with four driven in on the afternoon.
Piedmont added two more in the 5th with another RBI for the shortstop Wolfe after Perschka doubled in another as the Lady Lions went up 7-0 after five innings needing just one more run to end it early. The home team got that final score they needed when they loaded the bases in the 7th and freshman Avery Migues stepped up to single in the 8th and final run of a dominating 8-0 game one win over the visiting Scots of Covenant.
Head picked up the win in the circle tossing the one-hit, six inning show as she again did not allow a walk, doing so for the 9th time this season. The senior moves to 13-1 on the year and lowers her ERA to 1.53, a mark which is top three in the USA South trailing only teammate Jordin Ellingson and Huntingdon's Brooke Meadows who owns the top spot in the category with an 8-4 record as a starter.
Ellingson would get the start in game two and start off a bit slow giving up a run in the top of the first on back-to-back doubles from the Scots with Morgan Lane coming in on the basehit by Jordan Brett. However, the sophomore settled in after that to strike out three of the four batters she faced in the top of the second as she collected nine strikeouts on the day, a season-high for Ellingson in the circle though she needed only throw six innings in the shortened affair.
Piedmont got the lead back after being held scoreless in the first as Jessica Perschka picked up an RBI on double #2 of the day, 11th of the season in the bottom of the second to tie things up. The Lady Lions got a single in their next at-bat with Avery Migues doing the damage as she went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs and a run scored in the two-game sweep of the Scots.
After the Migues hit scored Perschka to give Piedmont the lead, Ellingson would hang one out over the plate that Jordan Brett lofted toward the fence in left as the ball looked to be staying in the park at first before carrying to the tip of the newly installed MonsterWall at Walker Athletic Complex. The Brett blast clattered off the top of the wall and over for a Covenant home run that tied it all up at 2's.
Piedmont responded with three runs in the bottom of the 4th and 5th innings though as Ellingson helped her own cause by drilling a triple to score Allison Vaughn in the 3-run 5th as PC went back up by six after five complete. Needing only two runs to finish off the Scots early again, Olivia Duncan heeded the call of the play-by-play announcer at PC who predicted a two-run double to end it as she drilled a Covenant pitch over the head of Scots center fielder Madison Quirk allowing Vaughn and Abby Atkinson to score two, ending the game at 10-2 in six courtesy of the 8-run rule.
Ellingson got the win in the circle allowing eight hits and two runs, both of which were earned, but did not issue a single walk and fanned nine. The nine strikeouts is also one shy of her career-high ten that she picked up in a 3-2 win over Greensboro last season.
The two wins put Piedmont now at 31-3 this season and 19-1 in conference play as just two more wins are needed to make the Lady Lions the outright champ in the USA South regular season. Head Coach Terry Martin also now has his 4th season with at least 30 wins picking up three of those in the last four years.
Next up for Piedmont will be a tough home doubleheader with Greensboro College at Walker Athletic Complex on Friday, set to start at 1 p.m. If the Lady Lions are able to get their 10th sweep of a USA South opponent in 2014 with two wins over the visiting Pride, they will secure a USA South regular season crown. But the order is a tall one as the Lady Lions needed extra innings to get past the Pride twice in 2013, with one of those coming in a 13-inning affair in the conference tourney last season.