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Rally in opener sparks Tusculum sweep of Queens

Rally in opener sparks Tusculum sweep of Queens

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Emily Hester doubled home the tying and winning runs with two outs in the seventh inning of game one, then hit a three-run home run and knocked in four runs in game two as Tusculum swept Queens University of Charlotte in a South Atlantic Conference softball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Park Road Park.

The Pioneers won the opener 3-2 and captured game two by a score of 11-2 in five innings to improve to 18-14 overall and 4-2 in the SAC, while the Royals dropped to 14-18 overall and 0-6 in the conference. Tusculum will be home Wednesday afternoon for a SAC doubleheader with Lincoln Memorial starting at 2 p.m. at Red Edmonds Field.

Game 1: Tusculum 3, Queens 2
Tusculum trailed 2-1 with two outs in the seventh with runners at first and third, and Hester delivered as she hit a 1-2 pitch into the gap in left-center to drive home Taylor Battle with the tying run and Delaney Guerrero with the go-ahead run. Taylor Plemons (9-7) allowed a baserunner in the bottom of the seventh but retired the side for her 11th complete game in 15 starts this season.

Battle was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases for the Pioneers while Taylor Johnson went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Plemons allowed just four hits and two fourth-inning runs, with two strikeouts and three walks, to earn the win.

Tusculum took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth against Queens starter Courtney Pearson as Johnson singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Michelle Miller. Queens answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning as a walk, single and hit batter loaded the bases for Kelly Winter, who came through with a two-run single for a 2-1 Royals lead.

The Pioneers threatened in the sixth as Johnson walked with one out and Rachel Wisner was hit by a pitch with two outs. However, Pearson got Miller on a line drive to second base to preserve the Royals' 2-1 lead. In the seventh, Battle singled with one out and stole second, followed by an infield single by Sammie West. After Guerrero hit into a fielder's choice to erase West at second, Hester came through with her winning hit.

Pearson (9-13) allowed three earned runs on seven hits for the Royals, with six strikeouts and three walks. Elaina Frantellizzi went 2-for-3 with a run scored for Queens, while Ashton Whitaker was 1-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch.

Game 2: Tusculum 11, Queens 2 (5 innings)
The Pioneers scored in each of the first four innings as Hester went 2-for-4 with four runs batted in, West was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Wisner went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Tusculum finished with 12 hits in support of Eliza Davis (4-2), who scattered eight hits in her third complete game of the season and second in a row.

The Pioneers took a quick 2-0 lead in the first as West led off with an infield single, stole second, took third on a sacrifice and scored on a throwing error. Johnson then followed with a single and Wisner delivered a two-out double to bring home Hester for a 2-0 Tusculum lead. Queens responded with four straight singles in the bottom of the first, the last coming off the bat of Abby Lathan which drove home Whitaker to bring the Royals within 2-1.

In the second, Tusculum tacked on three runs to take a 5-1 lead. Morgan Mahaffey reached on a walk to lead off the inning and Battle followed with a bunt single. After a sacrifice by West moved the runners up, Guerrero was safe on a fielder's choice and moved to third on a throwing error as both Mahaffey and Battle scored. Hester then brought home Guerrero with an RBI single to extend the Pioneer advantage to 5-1.

Tusculum added another run in the third as Wisner led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice by Miller and scored on an RBI single by Mahaffey. The Pioneers broke the game open in the fourth with five runs on five hits. West and Guerrero opened the inning with singles, ahead of a three-run home run to center field by Hester which gave Tusculum a 9-1 lead. Bailey Culler singled with one out and Miller doubled with two outs, and both scored on a error on a ball hit by Mahaffey for an 11-1 Pioneer lead.

Queens tried to keep the game alive in the fifth and scored a run on an RBI single by Alyssa Strickler, but Davis retired the Royals with two runners on base to end the game by eight-run rule.

Evie Scott (5-4) worked 3 1/3 innings for Queens, allowing 11 hits and 10 runs (six earned) with two strikeouts and a walk. Allison Lopez pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for the Royals, giving up a hit and an unearned run with two strikeouts. Queens was led at the plate by Sabrina Martinez, who was 2-for-3, while Lathan and Strickler were each 1-for-2 with a walk.

Eight of the nine starters in the Tusculum lineup had at least one hit in the game, and seven of the nine starters scored at least one run. Mahaffey was 1-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored for the Pioneers while Guerrero was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI.

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