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7th-inning rally salvages split for Pioneers against Coker

Seniors Taylor Battle, Emily White, Emily Hester, Morgan Mahaffey and Taylor Plemons were honored prior to Saturday's doubleheader (photo by Chuck Williams)
Seniors Taylor Battle, Emily White, Emily Hester, Morgan Mahaffey and Taylor Plemons were honored prior to Saturday's doubleheader (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Taylor Battle capped a three-run rally with a walkoff double in the bottom of the seventh as Tusculum University beat Coker College 4-3 in game two of their South Atlantic Conference softball doubleheader on Saturday on Senior Day at Red Edmonds Field.

The Cobras (28-14, 7-8 SAC) won the opener over the Pioneers (19-19, 7-11 SAC) by a 6-5 score as Brianna Strickland broke a 4-4 tie with a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the seventh.

The Pioneers will visit King for a non-conference doubleheader on Monday at 1 p.m.

Game 1: Coker 6, Tusculum 5
With two outs and a runner on first, Strickland golfed an 0-2 pitch from Ivee Richesin (6-7) over the fence in left for her first home run of the season and a 6-4 Cobras lead. Tusculum got a run back in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Grayson Brown, but Taylor Forehand (7-2) closed the win with the tying run at second as the Pioneers tried to overcome their third deficit of the game.

Strickland finished 2-for-4 with three runs batted in and Allyson High was 2-for-4 for the Cobras, who collected 10 hits in the game. Emily Hester and Anna Alloway each went 2-for-3 at the plate and Battle was 2-for-5 with a run scored, which came when she circled the bases on a throwing error after stealing her school career record 62nd base in the second inning.

Coker grabbed a 2-0 lead against Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons in the top of the first inning as Chloe Pelham and Ashley Meckley were hit by pitches ahead of a bases-loaded walk to Madison King and a sacrfice fly by Anna Gluhosky. The Pioneers answered with two runs in their half of the first off Coker starter Isabelle Mullen as Hester and Taylor Johnson hit back-to-back doubles with two outs, and Emily White was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in Johnson after back-to-back walks to Alloway and Emma Casey.

In the second, Battle singled with one out and stole second base with two outs, coming all the way around to score as the throw went into the outfield for an error and giving the Pioneers a 3-2 lead.

Coker tied the game in the fourth on an RBI single by Pelham and took the lead back at 4-3 in the fifth on an infield single by Strickland with two outs. Tusculum tied the game at 4-4 in its half of the fifth as Alloway led off with a single and was erased on a fielder's choice grounder by Casey. After a walk to pinch-hitter Alexis Grampp, Brittney Franse singled sharply off the shortstop's arm as pinch-runner Grace Jones came home with the tying run.

Tusculum threatened in the bottom of the sixth with one out as Hester drove a ball to center that Pelham was unable to grab as she hit the fence, allowing Hester to leg out a triple and forcing Pelham from the game. However, Forehand recovered to get the next two outs on a grounder to second and a popup.

In the seventh, Gluhosky singled to right with two outs and Strickland followed with her first home run of the season on an 0-2 pitch to give the Cobras a 6-4 lead. Tusculum tried to rally in its half of the seventh as Casey led off with a double, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brown. Chloe Freischmidt was hit by a pitch as a pinch-hitter with one out, but Forehand got the final two outs on ground balls to lock up the win for Coker.

Forehand allowed five hits and two earned runs in four innings of relief of Mullen, who gave up four hits and three runs (two earned) in three innings with four strikeouts and three walks. For Tusculum, Plemons pitched 3 1/2 innings and allowed five hits and three runs (one earned) with Richesin allowing three earned runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

Game 2: Tusculum 4, Coker 3
The Pioneers trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh but rallied for three runs against Cobra reliever Jordyn Goodman (4-3). Brown led off with a single and was replaced by Jones as a pinch-runner. A groundout moved Jones to second, and Franse followed with a single up the middle that drove in Jones to cut the margin to 3-2. Morgan Mahaffey then doubled on the chalk down the right-field line as Franse scored from first to tie the game at 3-3, and Battle hit the next pitch to deep center for a double as Mahaffey scored easily with the winning run.

The rally made a winner out of Plemons (7-6) in her 100th career pitching appearance for Tusculum, as she allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) with two strikeouts and one walk. Plemons did not allow a hit out of the infield until the fifth inning and pitched out of trouble in the seventh to keep the Pioneers close enough to rally.

Franse was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles for the Pioneers in game two, while Johnson was 2-for-3 with a double. Tusculum finished game two with a 9-5 advantage in hits, including all three extra-base hits in the game.

Coker opened the scoring in the top of the first with an unearned run as Pelham reached second on an error on the first pitch of the game, took third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. Both Plemons and Coker starter Christine Carver were in control through three innings, with the only hit for either team a leadoff double by Johnson in the second.

The Cobras picked up their first hit leading off the fourth on a bunt single by Meckley, and added their second hit in the fifth on a bunt single by King. With runners at second and third and one out, Mikayla Shore laid down a squeeze bunt and all runners were safe as Gluhosky scored for a 2-0 Coker lead. A sacrifice fly by Pelham knocked home King as Coker went up 3-0.

Tusculum got one of the runs back in the bottom of the fifth, overcoming an out on the basepaths to get on the board on an RBI single by Franse which drove in pinch-runner Caitlyn Brinkley. The Pioneers looked to tie the game in the sixth as Hester and Johnson singled with two outs, but Goodman got Alloway on a sharp comebacker to keep the score at 3-1.

Coker looked for insurance in the top of the seventh as Maria Williamson singled with one out and Pelham added a two-out single. However, Plemons retired Meckley on a foul fly ball to Battle in left to keep the deficit at 3-1.

Carver worked the first five innings for the Cobras, giving up one earned run on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks, while getting 10 fly ball outs to just one ground ball. Goodman surrendered six hits and three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings.






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