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Walkoff homer from Hester gives Pioneers split with Anderson

Walkoff homer from Hester gives Pioneers split with Anderson

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Emily Hester hit a two-out, two-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the seventh as Tusculum rallied for a 4-3 win over Anderson and earn a split of Tuesday's South Atlantic Conference softball doubleheader at Red Edmonds Field. The Trojans (31-13, 9-7 SAC) won the opener by a score of 10-0 in five innings.

The Pioneers (23-19, 7-7 SAC) will play their final home doubleheader of the season on Friday when they host Newberry at Red Edmonds Field for a 2 p.m. SAC matchup with the Wolves.

Game 1: Anderson 10, Tusculum 0 (5 innings)
Cailah Niles hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and drove in five runs while winning pitcher Augie Pena threw a two-hitter and hit a solo homer during the Trojans' six-run fourth inning. Pena (14-5) struck out six and walked two in her fifth shutout of the season.

Anderson took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second against Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons as Niles hit a home run to deep left field. The Trojans added three runs in the third on an RBI single by Meghan Majeski, a groundout by Mattie Hamilton and an RBI double from Heather Czentnar.

Tusculum picked up its first hit off Pena in the bottom of the third when Sammie West hit her team-best 15th double of the season with two outs.

In the fourth, the Trojans hit three home runs as part of their six-run outburst. Pena led off with a home run to extend the Anderson lead to 5-0, and a walk, a fielder's choice and a bunt single loaded the bases for Niles, who lined her second home run of the day and 13th of the season over the fence in left for a 9-0 lead. Czentnar followed two pitches later with a home run to dead center field to extend the Trojan lead to 10-0.

Niles finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored and five RBIs for the Trojans, while Kasey Grant was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Czentnar went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs batted in.

Hester reached safely in both of her plate appearances for the Pioneers, with a walk in the first inning and a single in the third. Jenna Restivo was the only other Tusculum baserunner against Pena with a walk in the fourth.

Plemons (11-10) allowed 10 runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings for the Pioneers, with two walks and three strikeouts. Cayla Cecil pitched the final 1 1/3 innings for Tusculum, retiring four of the five batters she faced.

Game 2: Tusculum 4, Anderson 3
The Trojans took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh on an error with two outs, but the Pioneers rallied for the win in the bottom of the inning. Morgan Mahaffey led off with a walk, but Pena came on in relief of Trojan starter Randee Bettis and retired the next two hitters on a fly ball and a strikeout. Hester then hit an 0-1 pitch the opposite way over the right-field fence for her seventh home run of the season.

The  walkoff homer by Hester was the first for the Pioneers since Katie Brennan hit an identical two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh in a 4-3 win over Young Harris on Feb. 21, 2012. The victory also snapped a seven-game losing streak by the Pioneers to the Trojans, since Tusculum won the SAC championship with a 4-3 walkoff win on April 13, 2013, also on a hit by Brennan.

Eliza Davis (6-4) threw a complete game to earn the win for the Pioneers, allowing no earned runs on five hits while striking out three. Tusculum had eight hits in the game, with West going 2-for-4 with a double and Taylor Johnson finishing 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI double. Mahaffey walked in two of her three plate appearances and scored on Hester's game-winning home run.

In the second, the Pioneers took a 1-0 lead against Bettis as Johnson led off with a single and pinch-runner Emily White scored on a single by Delaney Guerrero. Tusculum added a run in the third when West reached on an infield single, moved up on a sacrifice and a groundout, and scored when Johnson doubled past third for a 2-0 Pioneer advantage.

Anderson got on the board in the top of the fourth as Davis loaded the bases on two walks and a single, leading to a run on a two-out error. The Pioneers threatened in the fifth when they loaded the bases on a walk to Mahaffey, a double by West and a walk to Johnson, but Bettis got a groundout to end the inning and keep the score at 2-1.

In the seventh, Grant reached on a one-out infield single and Hamilton delivered a two-out single to left. Niles was then intentionally walked for the fourth time in the game to bring up Czentnar, who reached safely on a misplay as the tying and go-ahead runs scored for a 3-2 Trojan advantage.

Grant went 2-for-3 with a run scored in game two for the Trojans, while Hamilton was 2-for-4 and scored a run. Bettis worked six-plus innings for the Trojans, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout and three walks. Pena (14-6), who came into the game following the leadoff walk to Mahaffey in the seventh, was charged with the loss.

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