Tornado sweep Belmont Abbey, clinch Conference Carolinas title
BELMONT, N.C. – After sweeping Limestone yesterday, the King University softball team knew they could clinch at least a share of the Conference Carolinas regular season championship with one win at Belmont Abbey College on Sunday or win the title outright with two wins. The Tornado took a narrow 2-1 victory in game one, and followed it with a 4-0 win in game two, clinching their first Conference Carolinas regular season championship.
King got the two runs they need in the first game in the third inning. Aubree Hutt sparked the offense with an infield single, and promptly stole second. The senior then came across to score on a Cassie Ringstaff single to give the Tornado the lead. Fallon Thomas followed with a single down the left field line to score Ringstaff and push the lead to two.
Belmont Abbey (10-32, 3-17 CC) got the board with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, but that was all pitcher Hannah Light allowed in seven innings of work. The junior stuck out nine while allowing the one run on five hits, giving King the 2-1 victory. Ringstaff and Hutt led the Tornado offense as Ringstaff went 3-for-3 with one run scored and one run batted in. Hutt went 2-for-3 and had three stolen bases.
Just as in the first game, the Tornado (27-24, 15-3 CC) scored all their runs in one inning of game two. Tori McComas led off the second inning with a walk, and was sacrificed to second by Macy Shupe who reached on an error on the play. A Stephanie Rodriguez bunt single loaded the bases and brought Allie Spell to the plate. She laced a single to right center that scored two and put runners on first and second. Christina Melcher later came up with two runners on a laced a two-run double down the left field line to give King a 4-0 advantage.
Tornado pitchers Light and Morgan White shutdown the Crusader offense, holding Belmont Abbey to just five hits in the game. Light got the start and allowed three hits in five innings while White tossed the final two innings. Melcher went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in to lead the Tornado offense while Ringstaff went 2-for-3. Spell went 1-for-3 three and drove in the other two Tornado runs.
With the wins, King clinches their first regular season Conference Carolinas championship. The Tornado will also be the No. 1 seed for the Conference Carolinas Tournament next weekend in Burlington, N.C.
The Tornado close their regular season with a home doubleheader against Erskine College on Tuesday afternoon. The double dip is scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. on King University's campus.