DEMOREST, Ga. -- Facing elimination and just six outs left, the Covenant softball team rallied and a took a lead but could not hold as Piedmont took an 8-6 victory in eight innings over the Scots to complete a doubleheader sweep in a USA South Tournament first round series on Thursday afternoon.
Piedmont (28-7) won game one, 2-0, and will advance to the double elimination portion of the tournament next weekend in LaGrange, Ga.
Covenant saw its season end with an 11-24 overall record. The senior class of Carsyn Stone, Madalyn Ames, and Carlin Labuzan finish their four-year careers with 74 victories, tying a program record for most wins by a graduating class.
After Covenant dropped game one, the Scots found themselves trailing late in game two.
Covenant, playing as the home team in the second game, was down 3-1 entering the home half of the sixth inning. However, the Scots pulled together a five-run rally to grab a 6-3 lead.
Erika Mast, Aileen Hill, and Faith Manning had consecutive singles to lead off the sixth. Shelby Ralston then delivered an RBI single that plated Mast to draw Covenant within 3-2. The Scots then caught a break as Piedmont committed an error on Cope Whitaker's grounder to second and both Hill and Manning were able to score to give Covenant its first lead of the day at 4-3.
The inning continued as Jada Allmon lifted a sacrifice fly to score Ralston before another Piedmont error allowed Whitaker to score and make it 6-3.
But, the No. 2 West seed Piedmont stormed back with three runs in the seventh to even the score at 6-6. Drew Graham's two-run double with two outs in the seventh brought home the tying runs. The host Lions then scored twice in the top of the eighth and Piedmont reliever Melissa Eckman closed the door on the Scots in the bottom of the inning to seal the 8-6 victory.
Seven different Scots had a hit apiece in the loss, while Allmon finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Sarah Huskey made the start and went three innings before Lauren Kierpa came on in relief. Stone (4-14) got the loss after throwing the eighth inning.
Eckman (13-5) threw the final three innings for Piedmont and collected the win. Starter Madison Whiteside was hit with four runs on five hits over five innings. Mariann Kennison was 3-for-5 with two runs and Hannah Hoban was 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the Lions, who tallied 16 hits.
GAME ONE: Piedmont 2, Covenant 0
In a pitcher's duel between Eckman and Stone, it was Hoban's two RBIs that gave Piedmont all the run support it needed in the Lions' 2-0 game one victory.
Stone (4-13) received the loss for Covenant in the circle, but was outstanding. The senior went six innings and allowed two runs on six hits with five strikeouts.
It was Stone's third career start in a USA South Tournament game and the right-hander registered a 1.40 ERA in 20 innings in those postseason starts.
Covenant had three hits in the contest and all of them came in the third inning when the Scots had their best opportunity to score. With two outs and nobody on, Madyson Gibbins and Hill had back-to-back singles but Eckman worked out of the jam to preserve the shutout.
Piedmont scored a run in the first on Hoban's RBI single and then tacked on another in the fifth when Hoban produced an RBI ground out.
Eckman (12-5) went the distance scattering three hits and striking out two in order to pick up the shutout. The right-hander needed 106 pitches to get through her complete-game.
Rebekah Stegmayer had two hits to lead Piedmont, while Gibbins, Hill, and Ames all had one hit for the Scots.
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