Harley Stokes UNA softball

UNA's Harley Stokes hit a grand slam during the Lions' 8-5 win Wednesday over Kennesaw State in the first round of the ASUN softball tournament at Florida Gulf Coast. Stokes drove in five runs. [COURTESY PHOTO]

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The North Alabama softball team scored eight runs off 11 hits to open play at the 2019 ASUN Conference Softball Tournament with a 8-5 win over Kennesaw State on Wednesday at the FGCU Softball Complex.

With the win, the Lions (26-18) advance to play top-seeded Lipscomb in the second round late Thursday morning.

Harley Stokes led the way for UNA, going 2-for-3 with five RBIs. The sophomore from Demopolis had an RBI single in the second inning and a grand slam in the fourth.

UNA started the scoring with a pair of runs each in the bottom of the first and second innings. Meleah Hargett and Madison Daniel each singled to lead off the first. After the runners advanced on a wild pitch, Hargett scored on a throwing error to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.

A two-out, infield single by Stokes scored the next run. Daniel stole third base before scoring on the hit to the KSU shortstop to make the score 2-0.

In the bottom of the second, Danielle de Ruiter connected on her first home run of the season to extend the UNA lead. The two-run shot to left field also scored Mackenzie Roberts, who drew a walk.

Kennesaw State added a single run in the top of the third inning before the Lions scored four runs off four hits in the bottom of the fourth. Stokes again had the big hit with two outs. After a walk and two singles loaded the bases, the sophomore hit a 2-0 pitch to center for her 10th home run of the season. UNA led 8-1.

Following a three-hour lightning delay, KSU opened the top of the seventh inning with two hits to bring the tying run to the plate. Megan Garst, however, recovered to get three straight fly outs to end the game.

Garst recorded the pitching victory to improve to 16-5 on the year. She worked seven innings, allowing five runs off 11 hits, and struck out six.

At the plate, Riley Grace Honeycutt was also 2-for-3 while the Wilson High grad Daniel finished 2-for-4.

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