Mountain Lions send Patriots to heart-breaking 4-3 loss at PBC Tournament

Mountain Lions send Patriots to heart-breaking 4-3 loss at PBC Tournament

DAHLONEGA, GA – Designated player Morgan Curley lined an opposite-field, two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel Young Harris College to a 4-3 win over upset-minded Francis Marion University, Friday afternoon (May 3) in the quarterfinals of the Peach Belt Conference Softball Tournament.

Francis Marion (31-19) sees its season come to an end in heart-breaking fashion, while the third-seeded Mountain Lions (37-16) advanced to Saturday's semifinals.

Following an hour and 30 minute lightning delay, Francis Marion had retaken the lead at 3-2 with a pair of two-out run-scoring singles by seniors Jaimie Harney and Chelsea Welty in the top of the seventh.  In the bottom of the frame, outfielder Katelynn Hodges reached on a fielding error and Curley followed with her homer over the left centerfield wall on a 2-2 pitch from FMU sophomore right-hander Katelyn Ellard (18-10).

Ellard was the tough-luck loser as she surrendered only four hits and three of the four runs were unearned. Welty led the Patriots at the plate with three hits, while twins Jaimie and Jessica Harney both collected two hits.

The Patriots took a 1-0 in their first half inning.  Senior shortstop Taylor Johnson led off with a single to left centerfield, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior third baseman Angela Buccilli, and came home on an RBI single down the right field line by Jessica Harney.

Young Harris looked to answer back in the bottom of the first inning, but Buccilli made a sparkling defensive play at third base to end the inning and strand three Mountain Lion baserunners.

A liner by Johnson was snagged on a shoe-string catch in center to end the second inning and stand two Patriot runners.  In the top of the fourth, Jaimie Harney and Welty both singled to lead off the frame and force a Young Harris pitching change.  Louisa Disi (13-5) entered the game and struck out the next three FMU batters.

After the long first inning, Ellard settled down and retired eight straight Mountain Lion batters until a lightning delay interrupted the contest with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Following that 40-minute delay, Ellard retired her ninth consecutive batter to end the fourth frame.

FMU again left two runners on in the fifth.  In the bottom of the inning, two throwing errors by the Patriots sandwiched around a double by Curley led to the tying run.  Two batters later, a sacrifice fly to center by second baseman Grace Botti played the go-ahead tally as Young Harris took a 2-1 advantage.

In the top of the seven, Jessica Harney lined a one-out double to right center to put the tying run on base.  After she was replaced by pinch runner Madison Hatfield, the game entered its second lightning delay at 4:10 p.m.  When play resumed – and after a ground out – freshman outfielder Danielle Karacson drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second.  Jaimie Harney then lined a single through the right side and Hatfield beat the throw home to knot the game at 2-2.  Welty followed with a chopper through the left side that gave the Patriots a 3-2 advantage.

Six Patriots played their final game in the red, white, and blue: Buccilli, Johnson, Welty, Jennie Polak, and the Harney sisters.

Francis Marion's 31 victories represent a 12-win improvement over the 2018 campaign.


Young Harris 4, Francis Marion 3 (May 03, 2019 at Dahlonega, Ga.)
Francis Marion...... 100 000 2 -  3 10  3      (31-19)
Young Harris........  000 020 2 -  4  4  0      (37-16)
Pitchers: Francis Marion - Katelyn Ellard and Chelsea Welty. Young Harris - Nikkie Kovalsky;
Louisa Disi(4) and Jill Torres.
Win-Louisa Disi(13-5)  Loss-Katelyn Ellard(18-10)  T-2:05  A-308
HR YHC - Morgan Curley (2).
Weather: Cloudy, 77, Wind Calm
Kovalsky faced 2 batters in the 4th.   Ellard faced 2 batters in the 7th.