GAFFNEY, S.C. – Coming into the day, the King University softball team led Limestone College by one game in the Conference Carolinas standings, making Saturday's doubleheader that much more crucial in terms of the conference title. After taking the first game 4-3, Christina Melcher lifted the Tornado to the sweep with a pair of home runs in game two, the second one in the eighth inning of the 4-1 win.
Melcher sparked the offense in game one with a leadoff single. She later came in to score on a Hannah Smith double to left field, giving King the early advantage.
Limestone evened the score in the third inning when Dallas Heaton ripped a single to left center that scored Kirstyn Burleson who double earlier in the frame.
It looked as though the Saints would get out of a jam with two outs in the fifth inning, but King didn't go down without a fight. Smith singled to score Melcher, and Tori McComas crushed a double to left center to put runners on second and third. Macy Shupe followed with a two-RBI double to break open the game and give King a 4-1 lead.
Limestone tallied one run in the bottom of the fifth on a groundout, and another in sixth on a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to just one run. In the bottom of the seventh, Limestone's Amanda Hayes started a rally with a two-out single, and Burleson followed with a walk to put the winning run on base. However, King pitcher Hannah Light induced a ground ball to second base to give the Tornado the victory.
Light tossed all seven innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits while striking out five. Smith and Shupe both drove in two runs on two hits apiece while Melcher and McComas also registered two hits apiece.
Limestone (22-18, 14-6 CC) looked to turn the tide in the second game as the grabbed the lead in the first inning. After Hayes was hit by a pitch, Burleson laced a double to right field that scored her and gave the Saints a 1-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the sixth inning when Melcher ripped her first home run of the game over the center field fence to even the score.
Neither team was able to score in the seventh inning, and Melcher led off the eighth inning for King (25-24, 13-3 CC). With a runner placed second base due to the international tiebreaker, Melcher took the first pitch she saw and ripped it over the left field fence to give King a 3-1 lead. Cassie Ringstaff followed with an infield single to start another rally. After Smith reached on a fielder's choice, Shupe made it a 4-1 lead for the Tornado with a single up the middle.
Light worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning to give King the 4-1 victory and the sweep. In the nightcap, Light allowed only one run on four hits in eight innings, earning her 19th win of the season. Melcher and Ringstaff paced the Tornado offence with three hits apiece with Melcher driving in three runs.
With the wins, King is over .500 for the first time since starting the season 1-0, and they remain atop the Conference Carolinas standings with four games to go. The Tornado will be on the road again tomorrow when they face Belmont Abbey College. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.