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Big innings propel Pioneers to sweep of Bloomsburg

Sammie West collects one of her six hits on a bunt in game one (photo by Chuck Williams)
Sammie West collects one of her six hits on a bunt in game one (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Sammie West went 6-for-8 and drove in six runs as Tusculum University swept a non-conference softball doubleheader from Bloomsburg University on Wednesday.

The Pioneers (12-6) won the opener 9-5 behind an eight-run third inning, then rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat the Huskies (1-6) by a score of 11-9 in game two.

Tusculum, which has won four games in a row, will open its South Atlantic Conference schedule on Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Catawba.

Game 1: Tusculum 9, Bloomsburg 5
The Pioneers strung together eight runs on seven hits, three walks and two errors to take an 8-0 lead, then saw the Huskies chip away with four runs in the fourth and another in the fifth. West came through with a solo home run in the sixth for insurance in the win.

West was 2-for-3 with a stolen base, a walk, two runs scored and two runs batted in for the Pioneers, who collected 10 singles among their 11 hits. Taylor Battle and Emily Hester each went 2-for-4 and Brittney Franse was 2-for-3 for the Pioneers, with Battle driving in a pair of runs during the third-inning rally.

Neither team had more than one baserunner through the first 2 1/2 innings until Tusculum came to bat in the third against Bloomsburg starter Tara Baney. Franse led off with an infield single and West was safe on a bunt hit. After West stole second, Battle blooped a single behind third to drive home Franse for a 1-0 Tusculum lead.

Hester and Alexis Grampp followed with RBI singles to extend the Pioneer lead to 3-0, and Hester scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-0 Tusculum lead. Following a walk to Taylor Johnson, Grayson Brown singled to center to knock in Grampp, with Johnson coming around as the ball was misplayed for an error.

Balee Leeser came on in relief for the Huskies with a 6-0 deficit and gave up a walk to pinch-hitter Brittany Fletcher and a bunt single to Franse to load the bases. West then drew a walk to extend the lead to 7-0 and Battle was safe on a fielder's choice as Fletcher scored for an 8-0 Tusculum lead.

Pitching with a big lead, Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons ran into trouble in the fourth. An error and two walks loaded the bases with nobody out, but a comebacker was turned into the first out at home plate. Sammi Starr and Kalynn Wheeland followed with RBI singles to pull the Huskies within 8-2, and Taylor Winkelman delivered a two-run single to pull Bloomsburg within 8-4 and chase Plemons from the circle in favor of Ivee Richesin.

Richesin escaped the fourth on one pitch, but gave up a run in the fifth as Marissa Shelhamer singled and Kelsey Impink followed with an RBI double to bring the Huskies within 8-5.

With the score still 8-5, West launched her first home run of the season to left field to extend the Tusculum lead to 9-5 in the bottom of the sixth, and Richesin pitched around a hit and a walk in the seventh to finish off the victory.

Winkelman was the only Bloomsburg player with more than on hit as she went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. Shelhamer was 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored, while Impink finished 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI along with a run scored.

Richesin (3-2) tossed 3 1/3 innings of relief for the Pioneers, allowing one run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout. Plemons was pulled in the fourth after yielding four runs (one earned) on four hits, with three strikeouts and three walks.

Baney (0-4) surrendered seven runs on eight hits in two-plus innings of work for the Huskies, with three strikeouts and a walk. Leeser tossed the final four innings, giving up two runs on three hits while issuing three walks.

Game 2: Tusculum 11, Bloomsburg 9
Bloomsburg let a pair of three-run leads slip away, the final time in the sixth when Tusculum had five consecutive run-scoring hits to overcome a 9-6 deficit.

West finished 4-for-5 with four runs batted in and two stolen bases for the Pioneers, who had 15 hits as a team including six for extra bases. Battle, Johnson, Franse and Anna Alloway each finished with two hits, with Alloway hitting a two-run home run in the third inning to give the Pioneers a 5-3 lead.

For the Huskies, Winkelman was 3-for-5 with a double and three runs batted in while Julia Knight was 3-for-4 and scored a pair of runs. Bloomsburg had 12 hits in the game, with five coming during a five-run fifth inning that gave the Huskies an 8-6 lead.

The Huskies went ahead 3-0 in the top of the second against Pioneer starter Allison Pate after two were out and nobody on base. A walk to Alexa Erney and a single by Knight were followed by a two-run double from Briannah Dobson and a 2-0 Bloomsburg lead. Winkelman followed with a single that brought in Dobson and pushed the Huskies' lead to 3-0.

Tusculum responded with three runs in the bottom of the second, all with two outs. Alloway singled off Bloomsburg starter Nicolette Ray with one out and Morgan Mahaffey drew a walk with two outs. Franse singled to load the bases for West, who delivered a two-run single to drive home Alloway and Mahaffey. Taylor Battle then hit a popup that landed a foot behind third base and spun into foul territory for an infield single, as Franse scored to tie the game at 3-3.

The Pioneers added three more runs in the third following a leadoff walk to Grampp. Baney came in to relieve Ray and saw Alloway launch her first home run of the season to left to give Tusculum a 5-3 lead. Emma Casey followed with a walk, and pinch-runner Emily White came around on a wild pitch, a ground out and a single by West for a 6-3 Pioneer advantage.

Both teams left two runners on base in the fourth, before the Huskies regained the lead with five runs in the fifth. With one out, the Huskies received four straight singles from Impink, Starr, Erney and Knight, the latter two driving in runs to cut the Tusculum lead to 6-5. After a walk to Dobson loaded the bases, Winkelman doubled to drive home pinch-runner Annika Gemberling and Knight for a 7-6 Bloomsburg lead. Richesin was summoned from the bullpen and gave up a single to Barnes which drove in Dobson and gave the Huskies an 8-6 lead.

Tusculum left two more runners on base in the fifth, and Shelhamer gave Bloomsburg what appeared to be an insurance run with her first home run of the season to lead off the sixth. Bloomsburg would carry the 9-6 lead into the bottom of the inning, but a throwing error on a grounder by Grampp to lead off gave the Pioneers life. Johnson followed with a single and Alloway moved up pinch-runner Tori West to second with a ground out.

The Pioneers then delivered five consecutive hits in a span of 16 pitches to regain the lead. Casey and Mahaffey had RBI singles to pull the Pioneers within 9-7, and Franse doubled to right to drive home Casey with the tying run. West then singled past first base as Mahaffey came across with the go-ahead run, with Battle capping the inning with a double to left field which plated Franse with the inning's fifth run. In the seventh, Richesin gave up a two-out single to Winkelman but got Barnes on a ground out to earn her second win of the afternoon.

Franse reached base three times in game two on a single, a double and a walk and scored two runs. Alloway, Grampp and Mahaffey also scored twice for the Pioneers in the victory.

For Bloomsburg, Impink was 2-for-4 with a run scored and Knight and Dobson each scored twice. Both Dobson and Erney had a hit and a walk in the nightcap for the Huskies.

Richesin (4-2) tossed 2 2/3 innings of relief for the win, giving up two hits and one run with one strikeout. Pate went the first 4 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing eight runs and 10 hits with a strikeout and two walks.

Baney (0-5) took her second loss of the afternoon in game two, allowing seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits while striking out two and walking a pair. Ray allowed four runs on five hits and two walks in two innings, with Leeser getting the last two outs of the sixth after Tusculum took the lead.

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