49ers take advantage of Spartan errors to capture win
For the second week in a row, the Charlotte 49ers (28-21, 7-11 C-USA) prospered against an in-state opponent and beat the UNC Greensboro (UNCG) Spartans (29-21, 6-6 Southern) by a 7-1 score. Senior Lexi Betancourt took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and only gave up one run and three hits in the game, earning her 17th win on the season for the 49ers. Betancourt’s win tied the all-time wins record for the Charlotte softball program, her 69th victory of her career.
CHAR 7, UNCG 1
The first three innings of the game were fairly quiet for both teams. Taylar Byrne was the only 49er to reach base in those innings, after being hit by a pitch in the bottom of the third. Charlotte finally broke the deadlock in the fourth inning, after Emma Ocker led off with a triple down the right field line, her conference-leading fourth of the season. Designated player Bailey Rhoney backed that up with a single between the shortstop and third baseman, scoring Ocker for the 1-0 lead.
Haley Pace and Grace Beatty both reached base with singles of their own, making it four consecutive 49ers to reach base. With the bases loaded, Meredith Harris hit a chopper back up the middle that the Spartans’ second baseman mishandled, allowing Rhoney to score and extend Charlotte’s lead. Freshman Lizzy Birch continued the streak of 49ers to reach base, drawing a walk to bring in Pace and make it 3-0 Charlotte.
After a strikeout from Byrne, the 49ers brought two more runs across the plate after the UNCG catcher attempted to throw out Birch at first when the freshman got too far off the bag, but threw it over the head of the first baseman and allowed Beatty and Harris to score and push the lead to 5-0 Charlotte. With a runner on third base after the error, the 49ers added on to their lead after the UNCG shortstop fielded a ground ball from Erin Powers and attempted to get Birch out at home, but the 49ers second baseman slid around the tag and was called safe at home.
The Spartans didn’t break through until the sixth inning, ending Betancourt’s no-hit bid with a single that just slid under the outstretched glove of the shortstop Pace. A two-out double to right field gave UNCG their lone run of the game against the 49ers’ ace, the only impactful blemish on the afternoon for Charlotte.
Three consecutive errors by the Spartans infield loaded the bases for Charlotte in the bottom of the sixth inning. A sacrifice fly to left field from Bailey Rhoney allowed Byrne to score for the 49ers, their seventh and final run of the game.
This weekend, the Charlotte 49ers softball team travels to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to take on Middle Tennessee State (23-24, 6-12 C-USA) in a vital conference match-up starting Saturday, April 30 at 3 p.m.. The Blue Raiders haven’t hit well on the season, ranking third-worst in the conference with a .266 team batting average.
However, Betancourt, Haley Wiseman and the rest of the 49ers will have to slow down Precious Birdsong, the star outfielder for Middle Tennessee State, if they hope to come away with victories this weekend. Birdsong has a .344 batting average on the season and is second in Conference USA with thirty-three stolen bases, so the 49ers limiting her offensive impact will be the key to victory on Saturday and Sunday.