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After failing to pick up a win in the doubleheader games on Saturday, the 49ers struggled in the series finale on Sunday and were swept by the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Charlotte (10-18, 2-7 C-USA) struggled to score runs the entire series, as they only managed to score two runs in the first game and were shutout in the last two games of the series.

Game 1: Charlotte 2, WKU 11

Western Kentucky got off to a hot start in the first game of the doubleheader as the Hilltoppers earned five hits and scored six runs in the first inning. After earning their first run of the game from an error, the Hilltoppers recorded back-to-back doubles that brought in three more runs. The final run of the first inning was scored when Taylor Davis stole home. The Hilltoppers extended the lead to 8-0 in the second inning when Kendall Smith hit a two-run homerun.

Charlotte started playing better in the third inning when the Niners had two base runners with only one out. With runners on first and second, Meredith Harris hit a double, which brought in two runs, which cut the lead down to 8-2. Later in the inning, the 49ers had bases loaded and an opportunity to bring in more runs but the next batter hit into a fielder’s choice, which ended the inning.

However in the bottom of the third, the Hilltoppers had three straight hitters get on base and they scored their ninth run of the game when Shannon Plese earned a walk, which brought in a run. In the next inning, Smith earned another walk for the Hilltoppers and reached home off a homerun from Rebekah Engelhard. With WKU leading 11-2, Charlotte was unable to score in the fifth inning, which ended the game early.

Although Charlotte only scored two runs in the game, the Niners left nine runners on base. Harris, who had two RBIs in the game, has now earned a team-high 26 runs on the season for the Niners.

Game 2: Charlotte 0, WKU 5

Charlotte started the second game on Saturday with a chance to score a run in the first inning, as the Niners had runners on first and third base with two outs. However, the next batter flied out to right field, which ended the inning. After the first inning, Charlotte got cold, as the Niners went five straight innings without recording a hit.

Western Kentucky scored the first run of the game in the second inning, when Jordan Vorbrink hit a solo homerun. With a runner on second base, Maddie Bowlds hit a single into right field which brought in the second run of the game for the Hilltoppers.

WKU continued to play well in the third inning, as the Hilltoppers earned two more runs off of a double to right field from Kennedy Sullivan. With a runner on third base, Morgan McElroy hit a hard ground ball to second, which increased the lead to 5-0 for WKU.

With a chance to start a comeback victory, Imani Rochelle recorded a leadoff hit in the seventh inning for Charlotte, which was the first hit since the first inning for the Niners. However, Charlotte’s next three batters recorded an out, ending the game with a Hilltoppers victory.

Spenser Gray, Rochelle, and Harris each had one hit for the Niners.

Lauren Riley pitched 3.2 innings for the Niners and only allowed one hit and recorded two strikeouts. On the other side, Kelsey Aikey pitched five strong innings for the Hilltoppers, only allowing two hits. Shelby Nunn closed the game out for WKU, pitching the last two innings. Aikey and Nunn combined to strike out 10 batters.

Game 3: Charlotte 0, WKU 3

In the final game of the series, Western Kentucky jumped out to an early lead in the second inning, when Sullivan hit a solo homerun. With a runner in scoring position, Jordan Thomas hit an RBI single, which increase the Hilltoppers lead to 2-0.

Charlotte started off the fifth inning with a walk for Alex Paulson. With two outs, Charlotte’s next two batters reached base off of an error and a single from Katie Manring. With bases loaded and two outs, Charlotte had an opportunity to tie the game but Bailey Vannoy lined out to right field. In the bottom half of the inning, Western Kentucky scored their third run of the game when Thomas stole home.

Charlotte could not get anything going in the final two innings, as the Niners only had one hit combined and went three up, three down in the seventh inning. Charlotte left 10 runners on base in the final game of the series and managed to have three innings where the Niners left at least two runners on base.

Lizzy Birch recorded two hits and earned a walk in the third game of the series for the 49ers. Gray and Manring also recorded a hit. Riley pitched well again for Charlotte, as she pitched for two innings and only allowed one hit.

Nunn and Aikey pitched again in the third game of the series and played just as well for Western Kentucky. The two combined to strike out nine batters and only allowed four hits on the game.

Charlotte hopes to bounce back when the Niners take on Western Carolina on Wednesday Mar. 27 for a two game series. The games are set to begin at 4 and 6 p.m.

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