Offense Struggles, Tusculum Takes Two
BRISTOL, Tenn. – King left 15 runners on base in its Monday afternoon doubleheader against the Tusculum College Pioneers and mustered only five runs between two losses. After dropping their opener, 8-2, the Lady Tornado forced extra innings in game two but fell short in a 4-3 decision that favored the Pioneers.
GAME ONE: Tusculum 8, King 2
Tusculum's four-run fifth inning propelled the Pioneers toward an 8-2 victory in game one of Monday's doubleheader. Ahead of the Lady Tornado, 3-2, Ashley Bagley hit a nubber off of the end of the bat that into no man's land near the mound to reach on an infield single. After Savannah Ewing reached base via a throwing error on an attempted sacrifice bunt, a passed ball scored Bagley and moved Ewing to second. After a sacrifice and another King error allowed Tusculum to increase their lead to four runs. Katie Brennan then added a fourth run to put the Pioneers up 7-2 with a triple to the right center field gap.
After King answered Tusculum's two runs in the top of the first with two of their own, Kaytlin Stroinski allowed only two hits and kept the Lady Tornado off of the board for the rest of the game.
King's runs in the first came off a one-out, two-run double by Kendall Brabson (Bean Station, Tenn.) that scored Christina Melcher and Fallon Thomas. Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) took the loss, allowing eight runs, but struck out eight Pioneer hitters while walking none.
GAME TWO: Tusculum 4, King 3 (F/8)
The second game of Monday's twinbill took eight innings to complete as both teams battled back and forth early while King left multiple scoring opportunities unfulfilled as the game progressed. The Lady Tornado left nine runners on base, six of those in scoring position.
King struck first taking advantage of a leadoff walk to Kendall Brabson and a three-base error by the Pioneers. Cassie Ringstaff (Richlands, Va.) singled to right field, but Katy Stuckwish mishandled the ball and it skipped all the way to the fence, allowing Brabson to score and Ringstaff to cruise into third base.
After Tusculum retook the lead with three runs in the top of the third, King responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Cora Milliken (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the inning off with a double of the center field wall and was driven home by Fallon Thomas' single up the middle. After advancing to second on the throw to the plate, Tusculum shortstop Lindsey Umberger committed a throwing error that allowed Thomas to score from second, tying the game at three runs.
The Lady Tornado left runners in scoring position in each of the next three innings while Rachael Wilmoth (Morristown, Tenn.) took care of the Pioneers through seven-plus innings. The sophomore pitched herself out of three jams late in the game, two of which she faced at least one runner in scoring position with two outs. She battled back in the seventh after facing a runner on second and no outs, retiring the one, two, and three-hitters of the Pioneer lineup in order to close out the frame unscathed.
After forcing extra innings, Tusculum wasted no time in scoring after moving the runner placed on second over to third with a sacrifice bunt, followed by Umberger's single that was just out of the reach of a diving Cassie Ringstaff in the 5-6 hole. Tusculum loaded the bases with two outs, but Hannah Light entered and retired the final batter to give King a chance to tie the game in their half of the eighth.
King put the winning run one second base after pinch runner Tiffany Harris advanced to third followed by a walk and stolen base by Ringstaff. With one out, Aubree Hutt and Tori McComas had opportunities to drive home the tying and winning runs but fell short as Tusculum pitcher Elizabeth Johnson retired them both to close the game out.
Despite a strong showing in the circle, Wilmoth (11-6) took the loss allowing four runs (one earned) on eight hits through 7.2 innings of work.
King falls to 24-14 overall after the losses to Tusculum. They will play Virginia Intermont in the annual Stateline Classic, held at Whitetop Creek Park, the former facility of King College Softball. The Lady Cobras and Lady Tornado will take the field on Wednesday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. in their only regular season night game of the year. They will then embark on a four-game homestand back at the KC Softball Complex in conference play against Coker (April 12) and Mount Olive (April 14).