Smith tosses gem to keep Mount Olive alive

BURLINGTON, N.C. – Lauren Smith retired 21 consecutive batters after allowing a bunt single in the top of the first and Kalie Smith belted a third-inning home run as second-seeded Mount Olive stayed alive with a 3-0 victory over No. 4 seed Queens in an elimination game.

Mount Olive (30-13) will play another elimination game Sunday at 11 a.m. against top-seeded King, which eliminated No. 8 seed Pfeiffer Saturday night.

Smith (6-4) allowed her only baserunner of the game when Whitney Britt bunted a slow roller down the third base line on the first pitch of the game and beat the throw to first. Smith retired the next two batters on a sacrifice and a groundout as Britt advanced to third. Smith ended the inning with her only strikeout of the game.

Smith went on to retire the side in order in each of the next six innings, throwing a total of 78 pitches for the game, 54 for strikes. She allowed only six balls hit out of the infield and benefitted from a defensive gem from first baseman Beth Overman for the final out. Shortstop Jennifer Jones’ throw was high on Kaitlyn Cheek’s grounder, but Overman made a leaping catch and landed on the bag a half step ahead of Cheek.

Kalie Smith gave Lauren Smith all the support she needed in the bottom of the third when she sent a 1-2 pitch over the 225-foot left-centerfield fence for her fifth home run of the season. Her home run was Mount Olive’s 35th of the season, tying a school record set in 2008.

The Trojans added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth on Kelsey Akers’ RBI-double and Danielle Mitchell’s RBI-single.