JACKSON, Miss. ---- Kayla Hale and Lauren Shaw each hit two-run homers in the fifth inning during Game 1 of today's doubleheader with Belhaven, leading the sixth-ranked Auburn Montgomery softball team to a split with the 16th-ranked Blazers.
AUM defeated Belhaven 5-3 in Game 1 before dropping the nightcap by a 6-1 score. The Warhawks are now 26-5 (4-4 SSAC) while the Blazers move to 21-5 (6-4 SSAC).
The teams were tied 1-1 in the opening game after four innings, with each scoring once in the third. The Warhawks took the lead on a RBI single from Katie Spain. The sophomore third baseman finished the game 3 for 4, collecting her third three-hit game of the season.
Belhaven answered back with a RBI double from Denee' Crawford off of AUM starter Cassie Daniels.
Hale and Shaw gave the Warhawks a 5-1 advantage in the fifth. Hale hit her seventh long ball his year. Entering 2013, no Warhawk freshman had ever hit more than four in a season (Jyssica Pepper in 2011). Shaw collected the first homer in her AUM career.
The Blazers attempted a seventh-inning rally, with the first four hitters reaching on a hit-by-pitch, an error, a walk and a single after Hale had come on to pitch in relief.
AUM went back to Daniels to get the final three outs. After issuing a bases-loaded walk to make the score 5-3, the sophomore right-hander retired the next three batters in order to preserve the victory.
Daniels (11-1) allowed one earned run on four hits over seven innings. She walked a season-high six, but also recorded 10 strikeouts, fanning 10 or more batters for the fifth time in 11 starts.
Pepper added two hits at the plate for AUM, moving into a tie for the team lead with her 12th multiple-hit game of 2013.
The Warhawks fell behind quickly in Game 2, with Belhaven plating four runs in the first off of Taylor Powell (9-2). Crawford hit a two-run homer for the Blazers, while Courtney Fairley added a solo shot later in the frame.
AUM scored its only run in the fourth inning, with Haley Johnson blasting her third homer of the season. The Warhawks are now up to 34 home runs this season after hitting 16 long balls in all of 2012.
Johnson's shot was the only extra base hit of the nightcap for the Warhawks, who were limited to five hits by Blazer pitcher Jessica Paris (9-1). Paris struck out nine in a complete game effort.
Powell gave up six runs (five earned) on 11 hits over six innings. The Blazers added insurance runs in the fifth and sixth innings to salvage the split.
The Warhawks return to action tomorrow with another tough Southern States Athletic Conference doubleheader against 10th-ranked William Carey. Game 1 is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. from Hattiesburg.