Keane set career saves record as softball sweeps Montreat

Published 3:12 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — Heather Keane etched her name in the record book, and Juli King continues to blister opposing pitchers as Union College swept visiting Montreat College 4-2 and 8-0 in Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) play on Wednesday.

Keane registered her third save in a row in the 4-2 victory, giving her seven for her career. Not only is she the first player in program history to save three consecutive games, but Keane also now holds the career saves record.

Meanwhile, King scorched the Montreat hurlers in going 5-for-6 on the day with five runs scored, three stolen bases, two RBIs, a double, and a home run. The senior shortstop extended her hit streak to 14 games and turned in a stellar performance on defense, recording five putouts and five assists in 10 total chances.

With the wins, Union is 16-9 overall and 6-0 in conference play. Montreat drops to 11-11 overall and 2-2 in the AAC.

GAME ONE – UNION 4, MONTREAT 2

A late-inning rally and dazzling pitching locked up the 4-2, game one victory for the Bulldogs.

Union led 2-1 going into the fifth, but Ashlyn Vickers launched a solo home run to pull Montreat even. However, the Bulldogs responded with a two-run outburst in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good. With the bases loaded and one out, Ashley Sain walked to knock in the go-ahead run. Makala Gore then grounded out to the pitcher to score King, making it a 4-2 contest.

Keane took to the circle for the final two innings, not giving up a hit but walking two and striking out one to secure the save.

Madison Williams picked up the win, her seventh of the year. The junior hurler allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Offensively, King went 2-for-3 with two runs scored. She was the only Bulldog with multiple hits as the team was held to 6.

GAME TWO – UNION 8, MONTREAT 0 (5 innings)

Sain did a little bit of everything in the finale, driving in and scoring a run at the plate and tossing a shutout in the circle. The junior pitcher hurled all five innings and allowed no runs on three hits and one walk with two strikeouts. At the plate, Sain finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and run scored.

King gave all the runs Sain needed in the bottom of the first with a solo home run. It remained a one-run game until the fourth when the Bulldogs tacked on three. Sain drove in King for the first run of the rally, and the final two came courtesy of a Cavalier throwing error.

With a runner on first, Gore beat out the throw for a bunt single. As pinch-runner, Emily Harrison advanced to third on the play. The attempt to gun her down sailed down the left-field foul territory, allowing Harrison and Gore to score on the play.

Union locked up the victory with a four-run explosion in the fifth. King started things with her second RBI hit of the day, and McKibben ended things with a two-run double.

King finished the game 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored. Gore also collected multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

QUOTABLE

“This group just keeps grinding and it is so awesome to see all their hard work pay off,” said head coach Nicole Thompson. “Playing back-to-back days in this conference takes a lot of mental toughness, and I’m proud of them for picking up all four victories.

“Juli King added another notch on her hot streak with her first home run of the season,” the Bulldog coach continued. “She also caused major havoc on the base paths today along with Makala. Ashley stepped up with a clutch RBI single, while Josi came through to end the game with a big two-out double, adding to the triple she had earlier in the day.

“Pitching continues to get the job done while we had some great defensive plays to help. A huge congrats to Heather for breaking the program saves record. Truly earned and deserved. She is the best in the business and strives to get that ball at the end of the games.”

BULLDOG NOTES

Union is off to its best home start since 2012, when it began the year 10-1. The Bulldogs are currently 7-1 at Union Field this season.

The Bulldogs are enjoying a nine-game win streak, the longest since winning nine in a row during 2012 the campaign. The longest streak in program history (since 1995) is 10, which came during the 2007 season.

King’s home run is her second as a Bulldog as she belted one last season.

At .582, King’s batting average ranks 11th in the NAIA. However, of the players listed in the top 20, she is one of only two players with 50 or more at-bats. King has 39 hits in 67 at-bats.

After not starting the year in the lineup, Sain is now tied for the team lead in RBIs at 20. Gore also has 20 RBIs, and five Bulldogs have driven in 16 or more runs.

NEXT FOR THE BULLDOGS

Union stays at home for another AAC doubleheader on Saturday as Columbia International University comes to town. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.