( Photo / Zenith Shrestha )
Troy fans mask up and social distance at the Troy Softball Complex to watch the Trojans in the Troy Invitational.
The Troy softball team returned home from its first road weekend with a winning record, 3-2, and wins over North Carolina and Memphis last weekend at Rhoads Stadium.
Leanna Johnson fired a two-hit shutout to drop North Carolina, 2-0, before the Trojans fell in game two of the Friday doubleheader, 8-2, in the opening day of the Easton Crimson Classic.
The Trojans’ shutout victory over North Carolina marked the first time Troy has shutout a Power Five opponent since February 27, 2008 where Troy downed Florida State, 3-0.
In game one, Johnson caught her stride early, firing five strikeouts through the first two frames.
After a pair of quiet plate appearances for the Trojans, Jade Sinness’ kickstarted the eventual deciding frame with a bunt single in the top of the third.
After a groundout put Sinness in scoring position, Katie Webb smashed a doubled to deep left-center field plating the first run of the ballgame.
Kelly Horne followed right behind Webb blasting a double in the same left-center gap to plate the final run of the contest.
In game two, the Trojans hopped on the board first in the bottom of the opening frame when Webb doubled to left field scoring Candela Figueroa, who got on board with a triple.
In the top of the second, North Carolina’s Brittany Pickett hit a two-run home run to give the Tar Heels the lead. A double hit by Skyler Brooks and a Bri Stubbs double scored the third run of the frame.
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Tar Heels’ Kiersten Licea hit a two-run long ball to give North Carolina a four-run advantage in the top of the fifth.
Logan Calhoun led off the bottom of the frame with a single up the middle. Back-to-back ground outs moved Calhoun over to third setting her up to score on a wild pitch.
Kynsley Rae Blasingame entered in the top of the sixth inning and retired the side, bringing Troy’s offense back to the plate.
Horne led off with a double to left field. An error and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, but the Trojans couldn’t scratch a run across.
A three-run seventh inning secured the win for the Tar Heels.
Troy returned to the diamond on day two of the tournament and downed Memphis in a pair of contests.
“I am just really proud of the grit we showed today, especially in the second game,” Head Coach Beth Mullins said. “Leanna and Libby both threw great games, and our offense came through with some timely hits.
“I am proud of this team and how they continue to take it one game at a time. We are just trying to go 1-0 every single day.”
With the win in game one, Johnson moves into fifth on Troy’s career wins list (26).
In the Sunday finale, Troy Softball team went toe-for-toe with one of the top teams in the nation before defensive miscues allowed tournament host No. 3 Alabama to plate the two runs necessary to take the final game of the Easton Crimson Classic from Troy, 2-0.
Alabama hopped on the board first in the bottom of the opening frame using a passed ball and a wild pitch to score Alexis Mack, who led off with a single.
However, Leanna Johnson picked up right where she left off, retiring the Tide in back-to-back frames to send the game into the fourth.
Troy threatened in the top of the frame when Katie Webb led off with a surprise bunt single. Kelly Horne followed reaching on a fielding error by the shortstop, but the Trojans stranded both runners.
A Troy throwing error in the bottom half of the fourth scored pinch runner Kayla Davis to give Alabama a two-run advantage.
The pitchers’ duel continued with both sides hanging zeros to send the game into the top of the seventh. Needing two runs to keep the game alive, Anslee Finch tried to spark some momentum with an infield single but was left stranded.
The Trojans return to the field on Thursday, March 4, at Auburn. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. from The Plains.