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Two big innings lift Tusculum to doubleheader split with King

Two big innings lift Tusculum to doubleheader split with King

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum College and King University split a non-conference softball doubleheader Tuesday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field, as King captured a 4-1 victory in the opener before the host Pioneers came back with an 8-2 victory in game two.

The Pioneers (10-6) will continue their stretch of six consecutive home doubleheaders on Saturday against Francis Marion University. First pitch will be at 12 noon from Red Edmonds Field.

Game 1: King 4, Tusculum 1
Freshman Emma Hughes earned her first career win and complete game by shutting down the Pioneers on four hits and one unearned run. Hughes (1-2) struck out five and walked one, and retired 13 consecutive batters in a stretch from the second into the sixth inning.

The Tornado finished with 10 hits in the game, with all four of their runs coming on two-out hits. Danielle Parks went 2-for-3 with two runs scored while Michaela Morris went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the victory for King.

King took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Parks was hit by a pitch from Tusculum starter Cayla Cecil with one out, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a single by Morris. The Tornado added a run in the second when Kaycee Casteel led off with a single, moved up on two ground outs and scored on a pinch-hit double by Kelsie Sligh.

The Pioneers scored their lone run in the bottom of the second when Taylor Johnson led off with a bloop single to right, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored when Hughes made an errant throw to first on a grounder off the bat of Robin Stoner. That error would be Tusculum's last baserunner until Emily Hester doubled with two outs in the sixth.

Meanwhile, the Tornado added another run in the third as Parks led off with a single, moved to third on a ground out and a fly out, and scored on an infield single from Jennifer Kern. King went ahead 4-1 in the sixth when Hannah Devotie singled with two outs, moved to second on a single by Parks and scored on an RBI single by Hannah Riddle.

Tusculum tried to rally in the seventh against Hughes as Treslyn Reese and Bailey Culler had pinch-hit singles to bring the tying run to the plate, but a fly ball to left field ended the game to give King the win in the opener.

Hester finished 1-for-2 with a double and a walk for the Pioneers, while seven of the nine starters in the Tornado lineup finished with at least one hit in the game. The Tornado left 10 runners on base against Cecil (4-3), who allowed 10 hits and four earned runs while walking two and striking out zero.

Game 2: Tusculum 8, King 2
A pair of four-run innings sparked the Pioneers to the victory in game two over the Tornado (3-7), as Johnson went 3-for-4 and Culler finished 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. Hester reached base in all four trips for the Pioneers with two singles and two walks, and Taylor Plemons (5-3) worked through trouble all game long to finish off her fifth complete game of the season.

King wasted little time taking the lead against Plemons in the top of the first inning, as Riddle hit the game's second pitch just inside the foul pole in right for a leadoff home run and a 1-0 Tornado lead. King threatened in the second as a walk and two singles loaded the bases with two outs, but Plemons set down the side on a ground out to third.

In the bottom of the second, the Pioneers took advantage of wildness from Tornado starter Morgan Matthews to take the lead for good. With one out, consecutive singles from Culler, Jenna Restivo and Delaney Guerrero loaded the bases, and back-to-back wild pitches from Matthews brough home Culler and Restivo to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead. After a walk to Morgan Mahaffey and a stolen base, Sammie West executed a squeeze bunt that scored Guerrero to give Tusculum a 3-1 lead. Hester then delivered a two-out RBI single to drive in Mahaffey for a 4-1 Pioneer advantage.

King left two runners on base in both the third and fourth innings, and Tusculum came back with four more runs in the fourth against Tornado reliever Hayley Smothers to go ahead 8-1. Mahaffey led off with a triple but was still at third with two outs when Hester walked and Reese legged out an infield single to score Mahaffey. A single by Johnson brought home pinch-runner Emily White for a 6-1 lead, and Culler doubled off the fence in left to drive home Reese and Johnson to put Tusculum on top 8-1.

King scored a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Becca Gold, but a fine play in the hole at shortstop by Johnson on a grounder by Smothers stranded two more Tornados to end the inning. Plemons then retired the side in order int he sixth and pitched around two singles in the seventh to finish off the victory.

Gold went 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Tornado in game two, while Riddle and Morris each finished 2-for-4. Mahaffey had a perfect game at the plate with a triple, walk and sacrifice to go along with two runs scored.

Plemons threw 142 pitches for the Pioneers in game two, allowing 10 hits but two runs while striking out six and walking three. Matthews (2-2) allowed five hits and four earned runs in two innings, with two strikeouts and a walk, while Smothers yielded six hits and four runs in four innings of relief for the Tornado.

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