Softball drops home opening series

North Alabama pitcher Hillary Carpenter winds up for the delivery in game one of a double header versus Southern Indiana at home. The Lions dropped their first home opening game of head coach Ashley Cozart’s tenure at UNA.

Valentine’s Day showed no love to the North Alabama softball team as they dropped both games of their home opening series against Southern Indiana in a doubleheader.

The 3-0 and 6-1 losses mark the first time UNA has dropped its home opener under head coach Ashley Cozart.

“We have played one of the toughest schedules in Division II,” she said. “We have not had an easy game this season.”

The Lions (8-4) fell 3-0 in the first game. The game remained scoreless until the fourth inning when USI’s Marleah Fossett singled in the first run of the game, scoring Lexi Reese. USI added to their lead in the top of the seventh when Mena Fulton belted a two-run home run to extend the Screaming Eagles’ lead to 3-0.

Senior designated player Anna Gayle Norris was the only Lion to register multiple hits, going 2-3 in the shutout.

Senior pitcher Hilary Carpenter (3-2) pitched all seven innings but still picked up the loss. Carpenter allowed two earned runs while striking out four and giving up one walk.

The second game of the evening did not fare much better for the Lions.

After getting a 1-0 lead on junior outfielder Bailey Nelson’s RBI single, USI managed to shut UNA’s offense down, allowing only two hits over the final four innings.

USI responded in the top of the fourth with Mena Fulton’s RBI single. The Screaming Eagles then added four more runs in the top of the fifth before getting the final insurance run in the top of the sixth to go up 6-1 and securing a series sweep of the defending national champions.

Nelson said the lack of playing experience between newcomers has led to the team being out of sync to start the season.

“We just haven’t really clicked,” Nelson said. “Our chemistry is good. We can hit and play defense. We just had an off day at the plate.”

Up next for the Lions is their Gulf South Conference opener at West Georgia Feb. 18-19 in a three-game series. UNA returns to Florence Feb. 25-26 against Shorter.