NAPLES, Fla.- The Eastern Nazarene College softball team kicked off the 2016 campaign with a pair of victories Saturday afternoon at the Gene Cusic Classic in head coach Dani Bishop's debut at the helm.
The Lions downed Elms 7-4 before defeating Olivet 3-1 to improve to 2-0 on the year. The Blazers fell to 0-1 overall with the result while the Comets moved to 1-1.
Kaitlyn Jimenez (Meriden, Conn.) paced Eastern Nazarene offensively with four hits and four runs scored on the day. Lauren Clements (Garrison, Texas) also landed four base knocks while driving in three RBIs. Payton Fry (Chandler, Ariz.) recorded three hits, crossed the plate three times and notched a pair of RBIs.
In game one on the day, the Lions posted a 7-4 win over Elms behind a complete-game gem by sophomore Heidi Gomez (Floral Park, N.Y.) in the pitcher's circle. Gomez racked up 15 strikeouts while allowing just four runs.
Eastern Nazarene grabbed a 1-0 lead early with a run in the top of the first frame as Jimenez tagged up and scored from third base on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Clements.
The Lions extended their advantage to 4-0 with three runs in the third. Viviana Coix (Warrenville, Ill.) crossed the dish as Fry reached on an error. A sacrifice fly by Clements followed by an RBI double by Lauren Weidler (Lansdale, Pa.) drove in Jimenez and Fry.
Elms battled back to level the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Kierstan Skinner, Madison Messier, Tessa Cote and Keyla Oliveras all collected RBI singles for the Blazers.
Eastern Nazarene reclaimed the lead with a three-run frame in the fifth. Jimenez scampered all the way from first to score on an error. Fry raked a single up the middle to plate Emily Gomez (Floral Park, N.Y.) and later crossed the plate as Heidi Gomez batted a single into centerfield with two outs.
Eastern Nazarene carried its momentum into the second contest, knocking off Olivet 3-1.
Weidler went the distance in her first collegiate pitching appearance, fanning three while surrendering one run in seven innings of action.
The Lions seized a 3-0 edge in the third inning. Fry landed a single in the gap in right-center to drive in Jimenez to get Eastern Nazarene on the board. Clements laced a double to right-center to plate Emily Gomez before Weidler lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Fry from third base.
The Comets got a run back in the home half of the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-1. Devon Mayse doubled to right field to drive in Kristen Gressley for Olivet's lone run of the game.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene returns to the diamond Monday, March 7 to square off against Bridgewater State and Drew.