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Lancers win softball home opener

In the home debut under first-year Head Coach Dr. Megan Brown, Longwood University’s softball team got a combined seven strong innings in the circle from senior Sydney Backstrom and sophomore Leigha Hill and a 3-for-3 day from freshman outfielder Lauren Fox to cruise past Marshall University 5-2 in game one of the doubleheader at Lancer Field on Wednesday, March 10.

Backstrom (4-6) continued her early-season tear in the circle, scattering two runs over the game’s first four innings before Hill came out of the bullpen to shut out the Thundering Herd (6-2) over the final three. Hill, a two-way player who leads Longwood with seven relief appearances, needed just 38 pitches to record the final nine outs and came away with her first career save to show for it.

Aiding Backstrom and Hill was a flawless effort from Longwood’s defense, which played error-free for the second straight game. Longwood’s gloves saved several runs throughout, including an over-the-shoulder grab in shallow left field by junior shortstop Mason Basdikis that stranded two on base in the top of the second.

At the plate, the Lancers made use of an aggressive approach on the basepaths to turn five hits into five runs. Fox’s 3-for-3 day out of the No. 9 spot highlighted that effort, with the Ashburn native scoring twice and swiping one of Longwood’s four bases.

Marshall got its runs on two swings of the bat, first on a solo homer to right-center field by Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year Aly Harrell in the top of the third and again on a bases-loaded groundout from Armani Brown in the top of the fourth. However, Backstrom bounced back to limit the damage to one run that inning, inducing a flyout to strand two on base.

Longwood broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a 3-run rally that started with a walk and a steal by Fox and ended with back-to-back, two-out RBI knocks from junior Alexis Wayland and sophomore Nia Green. Wayland drove in the first of those runs with a well-hit single to left field that plated both Fox and sophomore Lauren Taylor, after which Green followed with an RBI single of her own that scored Basdikis.

Hill took over after that three-run outburst and protected the lead to the final out, allowing just four base runners in her four innings of work.

The win was the fourth straight in a home opener for Longwood (5-13) and handed Marshall ace Laney Jones (2-1) her first defeat of the season.

Game two of the doubleheader followed Wednesday evening at Lancer Field. Longwood defeated Marshall 7-5 in the second game of the doubleheader to pull its overall record to 5-13-1 on the season.