GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum defeated 23rd-ranked North Greenville 3-2 in the second game of their non-conference softball doubleheader Thursday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field. The Crusaders shut out the Pioneers 3-0 in game one behind a two-hitter from Amanda Coffrin.
The Pioneers (6-4) defeated a ranked opponent for the first time in nearly three years, since a 3-2 victory over 19th-ranked Wingate on March 15, 2015. Tusculum will travel to Lander to face the Bearcats on Saturday in a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. North Greenville is 7-3 following Thursday's twinbill split.
Game 1: North Greenville 3, Tusculum 0
Coffrin (4-1) struck out five and walked three in her fourth complete game and third shutout of the season. The Crusaders scored two runs in the fourth on a two-run single from Jaelin Griffin, and added a run in the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Kate Lee. Tusculum's lone hits came from Delaney Guerrero, on singles in the first and sixth innings.
Tusculum had the first threat in the bottom of the first as Guerrero singled with one out and Anna Alloway reached on an error. However, Coffrin retired the side on a strikeout and a popup to keep the game scoreless. North Greenville threatened in the top of the second, loading the bases on singles by Taylor Koon and Griffin and a walk to Grace DeBoer, but Tusculum starter Allison Pate escaped trouble by getting the final out on a foul popup.
In the fourth, Koon and Ashton Withers led off with back-to-back singles for the Crusaders, and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Lee. Griffin then singled down the left-field line as both runners scored to give the Crusaders a 2-0 lead. In the sixth, Celsea Rivers led off with a triple but Pate got the next two outs on popups. With two outs, Lee dropped a single into right as Rivers scored for a 3-0 North Greenville lead.
Tusculum's last chance came in the sixth as Guerrero led off with a single and Emily Hester walked with one out. Coffrin got the second out on an infield popup, and retired the side on a force play at second base. In the seventh, Coffrin retired the side on five pitches to close out the win.
Koon and Griffin each went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Crusaders in game one, while Brooklyn Stone was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. In addition to Guerrero, Taylor Battle also reached base twice for the Pioneers on a pair of walks.
Pate (3-2) tossed her third complete game of the season for Tusculum, allowing three earned runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Game 2: Tusculum 3, North Greenville 2
Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons (3-2) scattered eight hits and allowed one earned run, while pitching out of a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the seventh. Plemons struck out four and did not walk a batter in her third complete game of the season.
The top three batters in the Pioneer lineup combined for six of their eight hits, with Alloway going 3-for-3, Battle 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored, and Guerrero 1-for-3 with a run scored. The Pioneers scored all three of their runs in the first two innings, while the Crusaders pushed across runs in both the fourth and seventh innings.
After being held to two hits in the opener, the Pioneers received three straight hits from Battle, Guerrero and Alloway in the bottom of the first inning, the latter giving Tusculum a 1-0 lead. Sammie West delivered Guerrero with the second run on a squeeze bunt off North Greenville starter Brooklyn Fort, who was making her first start of the season after finishing with a 17-7 record a year ago.
The Pioneers tacked on a run in the third as Emma Casey led off with a single and pinch-runner Courtney Gibson moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Morgan Mahaffey. With two outs, Battle tripled to deep left to bring home Gibson for a 3-0 Pioneer lead.
North Greenville broke through with a run in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to 3-1. With two outs, Lee reached on an infield single and Griffin was hit by a pitch. After both runners moved up on a passed ball, DeBoer blooped a single to left to bring home Lee with the Crusaders' first run of the game.
Plemons retired the side in order in both the fifth and sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh as Griffin led off with a double and pinch-runner Hannah Gravely took third on a single by DeBoer. After Brooke Wade was retired on a grounder in front of the plate, Haley Gray followed with a single to score Gravely and cut the Pioneer lead to 3-2. With runners at first and third and one out, Stone hit a grounder to Taylor Johnson at third, whose throw home was in plenty of time to nail DeBoer for the second out. Rivers then hit a routine grounder to Johnson who stepped on third base for the final out of the game.
Griffin was 2-for-2 at the plate along with the hit batsman for the Crusaders in game two, while DeBoer was 2-for-3 as each team finished with eight hits. Fort (0-1) gave up five hits and three runs in two innings while striking out one, with MacKenzie Dyson following with four scoreless innings of relief on three hits, with three strikeouts and a walk.