ANDERSON, S.C. - The No. 19-ranked and third-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State University softball squad used a four-run first inning and solid pitching from Ollivia McLemore to blank sixth-seeded USC Aiken, 6-0, in the opener of the NCAA Southeast Regional in Anderson, S.C., on Friday afternoon.
The Pirates (31-12) advance to face second-seeded and No. 17-ranked Anderson (SC) - 4-3 winners over seventh-seeded Georgia College - at 11 a.m. on Saturday in a winner's bracket game. USC Aiken (32-15) faces the Bobcats at 1:30 p.m. in an elimination game on Saturday.
Armstrong got all the offense it would need in the first inning as senior Kat Vogler's bases-loaded RBI single plated the first run off of USC Aiken starter India Kornegay. Sophomore Haley Ellis then followed with a bases-clearing three-RBI double to put the Pirates up, 4-0.
Junior Alexis Mercer, the PBC's Player of the Year, then added a run in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run - her 22nd home run of the season, extending her own Armstrong record while also tying the Peach Belt Conference's single-season record, set by Columbus State's Casey Googe in 2012. It was also her 42nd career home run, breaking her tie with Annie Sells (1999-2002) for Armstrong's all-time home run lead.
Senior Kacie Patterson added an RBI double in the sixth inning to push the Pirates' lead to 6-0. Senior Ollivia McLemore limited the Pacers to just two hits in six innings of work, walking two while striking out four to earn the win and improve to 20-5 on the season.
Kornegay (22-5) took the loss for the Pacers, giving up seven hits and six runs in six innings of work, walking three while striking out seven.
Sophomore Peyton Roth had two hits for the Pirates on the day, while USC Aiken's Kaitlyn White and Magan Thrower notched the hits for the Pacers.