Lancers start 4-1 in softball

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Longwood University’s hot start to the 2018 softball regular season started Friday and continued Sunday, as the Lancers picked up a pair of convincing wins over Northern Illinois and Iona on Sunday to complete play at the Cougar Classic at Patriot’s Point.

Longwood’s offense erupted for 13 hits in a 7-2 win over Northern Illinois in the opening game of the day, before freshmen Sydney Backstrom and Arleigh Wood combined for a one-hit shutout in the Lancers’ 8-0 run-rule win over Iona.

The three-time reigning Big South champion Lancers (4-1) continue their best start since the 2014 season, putting together three games in the tournament with 10-plus hits and strong pitching throughout.

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“We’re extremely happy to get off to a positive start this spring,” said Longwood Head Coach Kathy Riley. “While we have lots of things to work on, we also have things we did well. Pitching was very good this weekend minus the walks and we responded well to challenges.”

In her first weekend playing Division I softball, Backstrom (3-1) earned a pair of wins Sunday, throwing a gem in Longwood’s win over Iona with four perfect innings.

Over the weekend, Backstrom led the Lancers pitching staff with a 3-1 record in five appearances, three starts. The Huntersville, North Carolina, product tossed 16.1 innings, giving up just one run throughout the three-day tournament.

She led a Longwood pitching staff that yielded just seven earned runs in five games of the Cougar Classic.

Kaylynn Batten, a 2017  first-team All-Big South selection, led a dynamic Longwood offense at the plate with a pair of three-hit games to finish 6-of-7 (.857) with three doubles, five RBIs and two runs scored. For the weekend, Batten batted a team-best .600, finishing with eight RBIs while slugging 1.000.

Jessica Smith put together a 5-of-6 day, including a career-high four hits in Longwood’s win over Northern Illinois. Smith extended her hitting streak to six games dating back to last season’s NCAA Knoxville Regional.

Leah Powell, a freshman, had her first three-hit game in Longwood’s win over Northern Illinois to round out a strong weekend for the rookie. Powell had multiple hits in two games throughout the weekend, as she added six runs throughout the weekend.

Wood made her career debut Sunday, making an appearance in both games and giving up just one hit.

“I know these girls have a desire to get better each day and that’s our goal this week, as we prepare for the UNCW Tournament,” Riley said.

After this past weekend, Longwood will now turn its attention to the UNCW Tournament on Feb. 23-25 in Wilmington, North Carolina. The Lancers open the tournament with a doubleheader against host UNCW and Bucknell on Friday, starting at 3 p.m.