HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- Tusculum College pitching did not allow a run in a doubleheader sweep of Coker College Saturday afternoon, winning 1-0 and 2-0 in South Atlantic Conference softball action at Saleeby-Stokes Field.
The Pioneers (28-20, 12-6 SAC) are a game out of first place with four games left in the conference schedule, and they will be home on Tuesday against Carson-Newman in a doubleheader that will start at 3 p.m. at Red Edmonds Field. Coker fell to 16-23 overall and 5-13 in the SAC with the losses.
Game 1: Tusculum 1, Coker 0
Kelly King (17-9) won her fourth straight start and tossed her 7th shutout of the season in the opener for the Pioneers. She scattered three singles, did not walk a batter and struck out a pair of Cobras while facing just one over the minimum number of batters.
Her shutout was also the 14th of her career, breaking the school record of 13 she shared with former teammate Elizabeth Johnson (2010-13). In two seasons with the Pioneers, King has a 31-16 record and a 1.89 earned run average.
Cobras starter Lauren Phillips (9-10) kept the Pioneers in check until the fifth inning, when Tusculum scored the game's only run on an RBI single from Kaytlin Stroinski that drove home Tavi Parris. Stroinski finished 2-for-3 while Carolyn Williamson went 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot in the Pioneer lineup.
Tusculum threatened right out of the chute as they loaded the bases in the top of the first on singles by Williamson and Stroinski and a walk to Courtney Hutcherson. However, Phillips regrouped to strike out the next two batters and keep the game scoreless.
Neither team would get another baserunner until Coker's Katelyn Szupello led off the fourth with a single. However, she was erased on a double play started by Stroinski at short as the game remained 0-0 heading to the fifth.
In the fifth, Parris led off with a single and Paige Sneed was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded and two outs, Stroinski came through with a single to bring home the first and only run of the game.
Coker tried to come back in the sixth as Ashley Gallman led off with a single, but Pioneer second baseman Alix Kruel started a double play that erased the runner. King then retired the final four batters to finish up the victory for Tusculum.
Game 2: Tusculum 2, Coker 0
Eliza Davis (6-7) continued her run of strong late-season performances by allowing two hits in 4 1/3 innings for her third straight win, while Williamson went 3-for-4, scored one of the Pioneers' run and drove in the other.
The Pioneers scored a run in the first and another in the fifth, and King came on in relief in the fifth to set down the Cobras for her second save of the season.
Tusculum jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first as Williamson led off with a single and came home on an RBI double off the bat of Stroinski. Meanwhile, Davis retired the Cobras once through the lineup perfectly before allowing a leadoff walk to Szupello in the fourth.
In the fifth, Tusculum added to its lead with a two-out run. Sneed and Kruel drew back-to-back walks with two outs, and Williamson delivered a single to score pinch-runner Hutcherson and give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead.
Coker attempted to rally in the fifth as Megan Strickland walked with one out and Gallman followed with a single. King came on in relief of Davis and allowed a single to Ashlee Ellen that loaded the bases, but she retired the side on a short fly ball to right and a grounder to second to preserve Tusculum's 2-0 advantage.
The Cobras looked to make one final rally in the seventh, but a leadoff single by Carley Bailey was nullified when she was picked off second base by Pioneer catcher Parris for the second out of the inning.
Stroinski was safe in all three of her plate appearances with two hits and a hit by pitch, while Sneed was 1-for-2 with a walk. No Cobra reached base more than once in the game against the Tusculum duo of Davis and King.
Phillips started game two for Coker and allowed two hits and a run in 1 2/3 innings before giving way to Logan Cox, who surrendered one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings of relief.
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