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Pioneers eliminated from SAC tournament with 8-1 loss to Coker

Pioneers eliminated from SAC tournament with 8-1 loss to Coker

HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- Cacey Simmons went 3-for-5 with a home run and five runs batted in as Coker eliminated Tusculum from the South Atlantic Conference Softball Championship tournament Friday night by a score of 8-1 at Byerly Park.

The fourth-seeded Cobras (38-16) advance to play Newberry in an elimination game Saturday at noon, while the seventh-seeded Pioneers' season ends with a record of 28-25.

Coker finished with 13 hits in the game while Christine Carver (7-4) carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and allowed one run on two hits over 4 2/3 innings to earn the victory for the Cobras. A four-run third inning and a three-run fourth helped Coker build a 7-0 lead against Tusculum, which finished with four hits in the game.

The Cobras broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning with four runs on five hits. Riley Morris doubled with one out, moved to third on an infield single by Kelsi Bachmann and scored on a squeeze bunt single by Simmons for a 1-0 Coker lead. Tayler Barcomb then delivered a two-run double to drive in Bachmann and Simmons, before scoring on a two-out single by Lilli Otten which gave the Cobras a 4-0 advantage.

Coker tacked on three more runs in the top of the fourth as Hannah Price reached on a hit by pitch to lead off the frame, and Bachmann was safe on a two-out error. Simmons then hit a three-run home run to right center off reliever Allison Pate to extend the Cobras' lead to 7-0. Tusculum loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth on walks to Treslyn Reese, Rachel Wisner and Michelle Miller, but Carver got a called third strike to end the threat.

Tusculum was held without a hit by Carver for 4 2/3 innings before Taylor Johnson delivered a two-out single in the fifth to drive in Sammie West, who led off the inning with a walk and took second on a groundout. A single by Reese and a pinch-walk by Robin Stoner allowed the Pioneers to load the bases for the second straight inning, but Cobras reliever Taylor Forehand retired the side on a grounder to third to keep the Coker lead at 7-1.

The Pioneers picked up two more hits in the sixth on singles by Morgan Mahaffey and West with one out, but a pair of ground balls to shortstop kept the Pioneers off the scoreboard. Simmons capped the scoring in the top of the seventh with her fifth run batted in on a two-out single which drove home Morris for an 8-1 Coker advantage.

Maria Williamson finished 2-for-4 for the Cobras while Morris was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Otten was 2-for-3 with an RBI as eight of Coker's nine starters had at least one hit in the game. Reese reached safely all four trips to the plate for the Pioneers, going 1-for-1 with three walks as the Pioneers drew eight bases on balls in the game. However, Tusculum left 13 runners on base to tie the school single-game record last set against Mount Olive on March 20, 2010.

Carver walked five and struck out two before giving way to Forehand in the fifth, who closed the game by tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief while allowing two hits and three walks.

Plemons (13-14) worked three innings for the Pioneers, allowing six hits and four earned runs while striking out two. Cayla Cecil allowed two hits and no runs in 1 1/3 innings of relief, with Eliza Davis closing the game out by yielding a run on four hits in two innings of work.

Several Pioneers wrapped up record-setting seasons and careers with Friday's loss to Coker. In the program's Division II era (since 1999), individual single-season records were set by West for runs scored (45) and doubles (18), Emily Hester in home runs (10), and walks (32) and Johnson in hits (67). Hester's 49 runs batted in were two short of the Division II-era record of 51 set by Chrissy Wilkison in 2007, while her 102 total bases were one short of Wilkison's 2007 total of 103.

As a team, the Pioneers set all-time school single-season records for home runs (40), walks (154) and sacrifice flies (18), while setting a Division II-era record for on-base percentage at .365. Tusculum came up two runs shy of the Division II-era record for runs scored with 270, just missing the 2007 team's total of 272. The Pioneers' .957 fielding percentage marks the ninth straight season that the team has fielded .950 or better.

Several departing seniors also left their marks on the Tusculum record book, as Wisner holds the school single-season and career records for times hit by pitch with 12, set last season, and 21 for her career. Reese is tied for sixth in home runs with 12 and Wisner is fourth in fielding percentage at .986. In pitching, Davis finishes her four-year career ranked sixth all-time with 34 wins, second in appearances with 99, sixth in starts with 69, ninth in complete games with 36, tied for ninth in shutouts with five, seventh in innings pitched with 434 1/3 and tenth in strikeouts with 175.

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