DUNCAN, S.C. --- The Tusculum University softball team swept the season-opening doubleheader with Converse College on Saturday at Tyger River Stadium, needing only five innings to take both contests. Game one ended at 14-5 in a high-scoring affair, while the Pioneers blanked the Valkyries 9-0 in the latter half of the twin-bill.
The Pioneers (2-0) will stay in South Carolina to battle with the Claflin Panthers on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m.
The Tusculum bats exploded for a combined 17 hits, including eight for extra bases, and 22 RBI. The offense collected four homeruns, eight walks, four stolen bases, and six hit by pitches on the afternoon.
Game 1: Tusculum 14, Converse 5 (5 innings)
The Pioneers used a nine-run first inning to power past the Valkyries, with Alexis Grampp driving in four over the course of the contest. Ivee Richesin (1-0) is credited with the win, allowing just one hit and one walk across three innings of work. The junior also struck out four batters.
Anna Alloway led off the 2020 season with a walk, but was thrown out at second when Grampp reached on fielder's choice. Taylor Johnson stepped up to the plate and hit a rocket over the left field wall to get the scoring started. A few batters later, Caitlyn Brinkley was hit by a pitch to load the bases after Grayson Brown was dinked and Chloe Freischmidt walked. Transfer Kristen Gass drew a free pass in her first appearance as a Tusculum Pioneer, gifting the visitors their third run. Preseason all-conference second-teamer Brittney Franse doubled to left and cleared the bases. Alloway stepped in and once again earned herself a walk, her second of the inning. Grampp was able to chase the starting pitcher, Courtney Walls, from the circle with a three-run shot to left field. Tusculum's nine runs came on just three hits.
Sammie West singled and stole second in the top of the second inning. Freischmidt was able to move her over to third as the next batter. An error by the Converse second baseman allowed Brinkley to reach safely and West to score an unearned run.
The third inning produced two runs for Tusculum to bring the score to 12-0. Alloway got it started with a double to left, followed by a Grampp triple to right center. Brown notched a single to center to bring the first baseman across the plate.
Brinkley reached first on a single up the middle and advanced to second after Gass was hit by a pitch. The pair pulled off a double-steal to put themselves in scoring position. Brinkley was out at home on a Franse fielder's choice, but an Alloway single was able to bring Gass in for the 13th run.
Ashley Scozzari subbed in for Richesin in the circle for the final two innings. In the fourth, Converse was able to get two runs on the board. Ryan Finazzo singled to shortstop, scoring Brooklyn McElrath, while Sarah Ann Arthur hit a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home Grace McKinney.
Tusculum scored yet another run in the top of the fifth. Johnson collected a walk to start off the frame and moved to second after Brown was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Johnson was able to advance 60 feet closer to home thanks to a throwing error by the catcher. West tallied a RBI with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Valkyries, looking to extend the game past five innings, put pressure on Scozzari. Down to their last out, Converse managed three runs before a swinging strikeout put an end to the hope.
In the game, the Pioneers struck out just twice, drew five walks, and finished with nine hits.
Game 2: Tusculum 9, Converse 0 (5 innings)
Freshman Madison Michael (1-0) nearly pitched a perfect game in her collegiate debut, allowing just one hit and one walk in the affair. She also collected three strikeouts in her five innings of work. Alloway highlighted the offense with three-run homer to reach the run-rule margin.
Freischmidt broke the scoreless tie in the top of the second inning with a two-run homerun to left, scoring West from second.
Tusculum did not score again until the fourth inning. Alloway drew a walk, her fourth of the day, with the bases loaded of Pioneers, to net another RBI.
A six-run fifth inning blew the game wide-open. Johnson doubled to left center field and West drove her in on a single up the middle. West advanced to second on a Freischmidt groundout before Brinkley scored her. Freshman Ashley Harbison had her number called as a pinch hitter. She took advantage of the opportunity and was able to bring Brinkley home. Franse singled to the pitcher to put two on base. Alloway cleared the path with a hit over the left field fence.