MONTGOMERY, Ala. ---- Freshman Kayla Hale drove in eight runs in the opener of Auburn Montgomery's doubleheader with Embry-Riddle, setting a new single-game program record and leading the Warhawks to a two-game rain-abbreviated sweep over the Eagles.
Hale's eight RBIs easily eclipsed the previous record of five, which had been accomplished on five separate occasions. She totaled nine RBIs in the pair of games, and also tallied a win and a save on the mound.
"It was a great day overall for Kayla," head coach Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson said. "She's just a freshman, bus she is starting to fill the role of being that big power hitter that can knock people in for us. She's just hitting the ball hard right now, and you give yourself a chance to do big things when you hit the ball hard and put it in play."
Despite playing a total of 11 innings, AUM exploded for 23 runs in the contests. The Warhawks defeated the Eagles 16-8 in Game 1, invoking the mercy rule in the sixth inning, and held a 7-3 lead in the fifth inning of Game 2 when the matchup was called due to an impending thunderstorm. Embry-Riddle had five offensive half-innings prior to the rain, which made the game official.
With the victories, the Warhawks are now 22-1 and off to their best start in team history. They have won nine straight since their only defeat to Blue Mountain. Embry-Riddle fell to 5-15.
AUM entered today without having allowed more than four runs in a game this season, but the team was forced to rely on its offense in the opener.
The Warhawks jumped out to a 5-3 lead after the first two frames. Hale got her historic outing started with a three-run opposite-field homer to left in the first inning. The dinger was her fourth of the season. Stuart and Katie Spain added RBIs in the second inning.
Embry-Riddle responded with a five-run fourth off of Taylor Powell, who was on the mound in relief of starter Cassie Daniels. Eagle catcher Dee Espinosa was responsible for most of the damage, hitting a one-out grand slam to give Embry-Riddle an 8-5 lead.
AUM's offense was up to the challenge, scoring 11 unanswered runs in the final three innings of the game. Jyssica Pepper started a four-run bottom of the fourth with a RBI double to plate Stuart after the senior led off the frame with a single. Hale then added two more RBIs with a double to left. She advanced to third on the play and scored on a throwing error by Embry-Riddle.
Hale finished her day with a bases-clearing double to the gap in left-center during a five-run fifth for the Warhawks. Driggers and Spain chipped in run-scoring doubles in the sixth to end the game. Driggers reached base in all five plate appearances, finishing 2 for 2 with three walks and three runs scored. Spain and Stuart also scored three runs, with Spain adding three RBIs.
Powell (7-0) picked up the win for the Warhawks despite allowing a season-high five runs. Hale registered her third save to go along with her offensive output, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.
After allowing a first inning run, AUM used a four-run second to take the lead in Game 2. Hale doubled in Spain to start the scoring. The Warhawks then scored a pair of unearned runs before Driggers nailed an RBI single to center.
Driggers doubled in two more runs in the fifth right before the game was called, completing a 3 for 4 effort in the nightcap with three RBIs. Stuart, Hale and Emma Johansen each had a pair of hits as well.
"I really like the way the girls are swinging the bats," Steiner-Wilcoxson said. "We're not relying on just one person, everyone is contributing and I think that's the total team effort you have to have to be successful."
Hale (5-1) allowed two runs (one earned) with four strikeouts during four innings in relief of Daniels. Robi Zimmerman (2-7) surrendered all seven runs for the Eagles, though they were all unearned due to six Embry-Riddle errors.
The Warhawks resume play on Friday with a 2 p.m. home doubleheader against Southern States Athletic Conference opponent Brewton-Parker. Friday's matchups begin a six-game weekend conference homestand for AUM.