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LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: Darton softball sweeps East Georgia

Darton freshman and Valdosta native Tiffany Bishop pitches during the opening game of Thursday’s doubleheader against East Georgia College. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

Darton freshman and Valdosta native Tiffany Bishop pitches during the opening game of Thursday’s doubleheader against East Georgia College. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

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Darton’s Melissa Dearth hits a two-run single Thursday against East Georgia College. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)

ALBANY — In first-year head coach Eric Neel’s home opener Thursday, the Darton softball team swept East Georgia College in an afternoon doubleheader, continuing an impressive start to the season for the Lady Cavs.

Darton won the opener, 3-1, and then cruised to a 9-3 victory in Game No. 2 and has now won eight of its last nine games.

In the opener, starting pitcher Tiffany Bishop scattered five hits over seven innings to get the win, while sophomore Melissa Dearth hit a two-run single in the bottom of the first to give Bishop all the run support she needed.

Darton’s Bree Wells added one more run in the fifth inning after singling, stealing two bases and then scoring on a passed ball, while Jostlyn Higgerson (2-for-3, 2B) was the lone Lady Cav with multiple hits.

The Lady Cavs’ bats came alive in the nightcap when they plated five runs in the third inning to pull away. Higgerson was Darton’s top hitter in the second game as well, finishing 2-for-3.

Freshman starting pitcher Sommar Wright struck out six and got the win, and Jamie Daniels picked up the save for the Lady Cavs, who are now 8-2 overall and resume play today in the Gulf Coast Classic at Panama City, Fla., with games against Chattahoochee Valley and Chipola.

Darton doesn’t return home until Feb. 28 when it kicks off a stretch of six straight home games with a doubleheader and Region XVII opener against West Georgia Tech.

LADY RAMS SWEEP FT. VALLEY: The Albany State softball team snapped an eight-game skid Wednesday with a pair of wins against rival Fort Valley State.

The runs came in bunches for the Lady Rams, who needed just five innings in both games to improve to 2-8 overall and 2-0 in the SIAC. In the opener, ASU shut out Fort Valley, 8-0, and then the Lady Rams dominated in the nightcap, 11-1.

Albany native Domonique Bryant got things started early for Albany State by scoring in the first inning of the opener on an FVSU error, and then the floodgates opened in the second inning when the Lady Rams added five more runs.

Alexa Lopez led the Lady Rams with three hits and also was the winning pitcher, while Bryant added two RBIs.

After a scoreless first inning in the second game, Chaconna Marks scored in the second inning on an Ambrionna Atkism RBI, and the Lady Rams never looked back. ASU pulled away for good in the fourth inning with five more runs and then put an exclamation point on the two-game sweep with four runs in the fifth inning.

Hicks and Malea Maye led the Lady Rams with three hits apiece in Game No. 2. Hicks also recorded six RBIs and was the winning pitcher.

GSW’S WOES CONTINUE: Hits were hard to come by for the Georgia Southwestern baseball team on Wednesday as the Hurricanes lost for the seventh time in their last eight games.

GSW was held to five hits, two of which came in the ninth inning of a 6-1 loss to Southern Polytechnic State University.

GSW drops to 3-8, while Southern Poly, ranked 17th in the latest NAIA national poll, improves to 7-3.

Southern Poly scored what would prove to be the game-winning run in the first inning. Khirus Ware belted a two-out triple to score Dalton Martinez and on the next play scored off a Tyler Garner single.

The visiting Hornets pushed across a pair of insurance runs in the third and added two more in the seventh.

GSW put together back-to-back hits to open the ninth inning, and Neal Chambless eventually scored the Hurricanes lone run on a fielder’s choice.

Starter Lance Shelton (1-3) took the loss for the Hurricanes. Shelton pitched for one inning and surrendered four hits and two runs.

GSW resumes Peach Belt Conference play on Saturday with a doubleheader at Armstrong Atlantic State University.