Tusculum, Queens split conference doubleheader

Tusculum, Queens split conference doubleheader

Tusculum College and Queens University of Charlotte split a South Atlantic Conference softball doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field. The Pioneers won the opener 10-2 in five innings, while the Royals (12-14, 1-5 SAC) came back for a 2-1 win in the nightcap to salvage the split.

The Pioneers (16-18, 2-4 SAC) return to action Tuesday afternoon at Brevard in a SAC doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.

Game 1: Tusculum 10, Queens 2 (5 innings)
(Box Score)

The Pioneers scored four runs in the first inning to take an early lead, then added five runs in the fifth to end the game via the eight-run rule. Tusculum had 11 hits in the game, including six extra-base hits, while Kelly King (11-8) pitched out of trouble in the third and fourth innings to earn the victory.

Courtney Hutcherson and Alix Kruel each went 2-for-3 with a double and triple for the Pioneers, while Kaytlin Stroinski added her fourth home run of the season during the decisive fifth-inning outburst. Tavi Parris, Nicole Ball and Miranda Beeler also went 2-for-3 for Tusculum, whose 10 runs were a season high.

The Pioneers jumped on Royals starter Kaitlyn Bodine for four runs in the bottom of the first. Beeler reached on a single with one out and stole second, then after a walk to Stroinski a double from Hutcherson gave the Pioneers a quick 1-0 lead. Parris then drove home Stroinski with a bunt single, and two more runs scored later in the inning as a throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, allowing Parris and Hutcherson to score for a 4-0 lead.

Tusculum tacked on a run in the second as Kruel led off with a triple and scored on an infield single by Beeler, but Queens came back with two runs in the third on a sacrifice fly by Bodine and an RBI single from Whitney Britt. However, King got out of further trouble by getting a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the frame.

Queens threatened again in the fourth as runners reached second and third with two outs, but King got Bodine out on a ground ball to Kruel at second to keep the Tusculum lead at 5-2.

The Pioneers put the game away in the bottom of the fifth as Stroinski led off with a homer to extend the lead to 6-2, followed by a triple from Hutcherson, a double by Parris and a single from Ball to complete the "reverse cycle" and give Tusculum a 7-2 lead. After a hit batter loaded the bases, Kruel unloaded the bags and ended the game with a double to left-center off reliever Lyndey McCurry.

Kruel finished 2-for-3 with three runs batted in for the Pioneers, while Parris had two RBIs and two runs scored. Stroinski also scored a pair of runs in the opener for Tusculum. Queens had nine hits as a team in the game, led by 2-for-3 performances from Micaela Hayes and Ashton Whitaker.

Bodine (3-5) allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 10 hits in four-plus innings for the Royals, striking out four and walking one. King struck out three and did not walk a batter in her 18th complete game in as many starts for the Pioneers.

Game 2: Queens 2, Tusculum 1
(Box Score)

The Pioneers were shut down by Royals starter Ashley Rollins (3-5), who allowed one run on five hits and struck out four. Rollins retired the first seven batters she faced and pitched out of jams in the third and fifth innings to earn the win. Sixteen of the 21 outs recorded by Rollins were in the air, with the only ground-ball out coming on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth inning.

Queens scored the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth as Whitaker led off with a double and pinch-runner Danielle McHugh scored on a two-out double from Amanda Meade. The Royals had eight hits in the game, including two from Taylor Rosenbalm, and had four extra-base hits in the contest.

Carolyn Williamson and Kruel led the Pioneers at the plate, as Williamson was 2-for-4 with Tusculum's lone RBI and Kruel had two doubles and scored the only run in the bottom of the fifth.

The Royals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Bodine hit a one-out solo home run to deep center field off Pioneer starter Eliza Davis. Queens added two more hits and a walk in the inning but Davis retired Meade on a line drive to Williamson in left for the final out.

Tusculum was held without a baserunner until the bottom of the third, when Katie Brennan reached on an infield single to third with one out. Kruel then doubled to left to put runners on second and third with one out and Williamson reached on a single to Rollins to load the bases. However, a popup to shallow left and a strikeout ended the inning and kept the Royals on top 1-0.

In the fifth, Kruel doubled with two outs and scored on a single to left by Williamson to tie the game at 1-1, but Rollins again came through with a strikeout with two runners on base to preserve the tie. Queens scored the decisive run in the sixth as Whitaker reached on a leadoff double and Meade hit a two-out double off reliever Rachel Medley to allow the go-ahead run to score.

Tusculum threatened again in the sixth when Hutcherson led off with a walk and moved up on a bunt by Parris, only to strand the runner on back-to-back infield popups. The Pioneers went in order in the seventh, helped by a fine running catch in left-center by Britt on Kruel's bid for a third double in the game and fifth of the day.

Davis (2-6) allowed six hits and two runs in five-plus innings for the Pioneers, striking out two and walking a pair. Medley allowed two hits in two scoreless innings of relief.

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