softball story

Madelyn Wright celebrates with a teammate.

Charlotte played their first series in nearly a month due to the cancellations and postponement of eight straight games. This long break in games did not deter the Niners as they went on to win three of the four games against Middle Tennessee.

Game One: Charlotte 9, Middle Tennessee 5

Charlotte came back from their break in style, winning the first game of the series. Through three innings, the Blue Raiders led 4-2 and had momentum on their side. With bases loaded at the bottom of the fourth, Bailey Vannoy hit a double to right-center that brought everyone home, giving Charlotte a 5-4 lead.

Middle Tennessee tied the game in the fifth and went to extra innings. The Niners held them to just four at-bats and zero runs in the top of the eight. Kourtney Gremillion was the Niners' hero in the next frame, blasting a shot over the right-field wall for a walk-off grand slam in extra innings.

"That's why we brought Kourtney here, to do that right there," said head coach Ashley Chastain after the game. "She is a special player for us. She has a ton of experience, including NCAA postseason experience and I thought it really showed up for her right there."

Gremillion is the cleanup hitter behind Vannoy and went 2-for-5 with four RBIs in the game. Vannoy went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs, two doubles and three RBIs.

"That's why she hits behind (Vannoy) because it takes a lot of pressure off of her, and it puts us in a really good spot when opponents make decisions to walk (Vannoy). We are just passing the bat to someone who is just as good," said Chastain.

Kiyah Garrett went 3-for-4 with a double and a couple of RBIs. Nicole Bowman had her third multi-hit game this season after going 2-for-3 with a run scored.

Game Two: Charlotte 3, Middle Tennessee 1

Charlotte followed up the game one win with a 3-1 victory in game two. In the Niners' first frame, Gremillion hit an RBI single to send Vannoy home to take an early 1-0 lead.

It wasn't until the top of the sixth that Middle Tennessee tied the game. Bowman answered back in the next frame for the Niners with a two-run homer to put Charlotte back on top 3-1.

Despite allowing three hits in the top of the seventh, they didn't allow a single run. This 3-1 win marks Charlotte's fourth straight victory.

Maddux Hughes made her third start of the year and pitched 4.1 shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out a career-high eight batters.

Vannoy had a great performance, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a run scored.

Game Three: Charlotte 3, Middle Tennessee 8

Later that day, it was Middle Tennessee who picked up the win to split the Friday doubleheader. By the end of the fourth inning, Middle Tennessee was up 2-1.

With the game on the line, Bowman opened up the bottom of the seventh with a home run to tie the game at two. This was Bowman's second home run of the day and fifth of the season. The Niners couldn't pull off the walk-off in the seventh, so the game was sent to extra innings.

Middle Tennessee put up six runs in the eighth inning. Charlotte only managed a single run in the next frame to give the Blue Raiders the 8-3 win.

Bowman went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. Cori Henderson was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Game Four: Charlotte 6, Middle Tennessee 4

Middle Tennessee started off game four with a 3-0 lead. Charlotte fired back hard at the bottom of the second, scoring four runs to take a 4-3 lead. Madelyn Wright hit a home run in the fifth to extend the Niner lead to two.

Middle Tennessee scored a run in the top of the fifth to cut into the Niner lead, but a Vannoy home run in the next frame gave Charlotte a two-run lead.

Wright went 5.2 innings in relief and gave up no earned runs on four hits while striking out three batters. She also went 2-for-3 at the plate with two runs scored, two RBIs and her first home run of the season.

Vannoy's home run was her seventh of the season. Grace Newell hit an RBI double which marks her first hit of the season.

Charlotte improves their record to 17-8 and is now third in C-USA win percentage with this win.

Next game

Charlotte hits the road for Chapel Hill, N.C., for a midweek game on Tuesday, April 6 p.m. against the North Carolina Tar Heels at 5 p.m.

The Niners are 0-2 in away games and haven't won on the road since April of their 2019 season.

The Tar Heels are coming off a four-game series where they were swept by No. 18 Clemson, where they were outscored 31-4 in those games.

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