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Much like the work on the new rest rooms at the Lancaster High School softball field, there’s work being done on the adjacent diamond.
For the University of South Carolina at Lancaster Lancers’ first-year softball program, it’s been a slow process with only three wins in 22 games.
“That’s growing pains,” said Lancaster coach Alan Blankenship after the Lancers dropped a Region X doubleheader to Florence-Darlington Tech in USCL’s first-ever home game Friday afternoon.
The Stingers swept the USCL women, 10-0 in five innings and 14-8 in eight innings.
The highlights were few in the opener as the Lancers produced only two hits – one each from Jena Hallman and Brittany Craig.
The nightcap was a loss, but a better outing as the Lancers battled only to come up short in the extra-inning loss.
“This shows the character of these girls,” Blankenship said. “They play with heart.”
After the 10-run shutout loss in the opener, the Lancers ignited for 15 hits only to fall shy of the win.
USCL rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to claim a 5-4 edge and it was a seesaw battle the rest of the way before the Stingers ignited in the top of the eighth for the victory.
Cherrelle Cousar had three hits, including two doubles and a single and drove in a run. Jordan Boone drilled two hits and drove in three runs. Craig had a single and a double and drove in two runs. Courtney Cauthen, who took the loss in eight innings, had two hits and drove in a run.
Kurstin Cope, who drove in a run, had two hits along with Hallman, the opening game losing hurler. Candice Benson and Brittany Speagle each added a hit.
“One positive for us was the turnout we had,” said Blankenship. “We appreciate the people coming out and supporting the program and we hope to give them more to cheer about. We’re starting out and we’re playing experienced teams. It takes time, but I feel we will get there.”
Among the fans was Lancaster Mayor Joe Shaw, who tossed out the opening pitch.
“This is great because this program brings people into our community,” Shaw said. “Our government, city and county, needs to participate and be a part of this. I was glad to be here.”
USCL Dean John Catalano noted Lancers’ sports are part of the education process.
“This is a great addition to the college experience. These girls are athletes and they’re having a good time,” he said. “The camaraderie out here is something you just don’t get in a classroom.”
Hallman, the former Buford star, said she was grateful for the support.
“This shows Lancaster County cares about sports and USCL,” she said. “It’s good to see the support here. It’s a start and you have to start some place.
“We’re a better team than the team which was 10-runned in the first game,” she said. “I think we just have to come together as a team.”
u Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157