GREENVILLE, Tenn. – The King University softball team suffered a pair of heartbreaking losses at Tusculum College on Monday night. The teams played a two eight inning games with Tusculum winning game one 4-3 and game two 11-10.
King started the scoring early in the first game as Octavia Lewis-Rand was hit by a pitch to start a rally. Christina Melcher followed with a double down the left field line before Hannah Smith came up with a two-out, two-run single up the middle. The Tornado took a 3-0 lead on an Aubree Hutt single to center field that scored Cassie Ringstaff who singled earlier in the inning.
Tusculum got on the board on an Alex Kruel run scoring single in the fifth inning. Carolyn Williamson evened the score later in the frame when she laced a two-run single to left field. Neither team was able to score in the sixth or seventh innings, and the game went to extra innings.
With a runner placed on second, the Tornado sacrificed Stephanie Rodriguez to third, but couldn't get a hit to score her. The Pioneers cashed in in the bottom of the eighth as the leadoff hitter ripped a double to right field to give Tusculum the 4-3 walk-off win.
Hannah Light tossed all seven innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits while striking out five. Melcher and Ringstaff led King with two hits apiece.
The Tornado (17-23) struck first again in the nightcap as Ringstaff laced a triple to right center that scored Hutt in the third inning.
However, the Pioneers (23-14) answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by a two-run double by Paige Sneed.
Tusculum didn't hold the lead long as Tori McComas crushed her third home run of the season over the left field fence to score three and give the lead back to King. Melcher and Fallon Thomas recorded run scoring singles later in the inning to give the Tornado a 7-4 advantage.
The Pioneers kept the runs coming as they scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, Kaytlin Stroinski ripped a bases clearing double to left field that put Tusculum back on top. After four innings, the Pioneers held a 9-7 advantage.
It looked as the Tornado would cash in again in the fifth as they loaded the bases with only one out. Nevertheless, Pioneer pitcher Leah Powell got a pair of groundouts to end the threat.
The Tornado didn't go down easily as Melcher led off the sixth inning with a single, and Thomas followed with a home run to right field to even the score at nine apiece.
Tusculum quickly regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the sixth, but the Tornado had an answer. Hutt started the inning with a single, and Ringstaff moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Melcher came up with the big hit, a double to right field that tied the game at 10-10. Then Light worked around a Tusculum double in the bottom of the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
After King was unable to score in the top of the eighth, the Pioneers sacrificed the runner that was placed on second base to third. After a walk, Katie Brennan hit a fly ball to right field that scored the runner that was on third to give Tusculum the 11-10 win, and the sweep.
Melcher went 4-for-4 with two runs batted in to lead the Tornado while Thomas went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in and two runs scored. McComas and Smith chipped in with two hits apiece.
The Tornado return to Conference Carolinas play on Wednesday when they travel to Lees-McRae College. The doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m.