March 24, 2014

Light's two gems lead King to sweep over Newberry

NEWBERRY, S.C. – After sweeping a doubleheader against Bloomsburg University in Bristol on Friday afternoon, the King University softball team continued its winning ways by sweeping a twinbill at nonconference foe Newberry College on Monday, winning both games 1-0 behind a pair of stellar pitching performances by Hannah Light and an unearned run in each contest.

Light, who ranks second in strikeouts among NCAA Division II pitchers, twirled two complete games, giving up just eight total hits and no runs on the day. She stranded 10 Wolves (15-15) on the basepaths in the first game, including seven in scoring position, then allowed only two hits in the second game and at one point retired 10 consecutive Newberry hitters.

The Tornado (16-19) got all the offense it would need in the first game in what would prove to be a disastrous second inning for the Wolves. Tori McComas led off the inning with a routine ground ball to third base, but the Newberry fielder's throw was too high for Leah Hosking at first base, allowing McComas to advance to second. Cheyenne Delffs followed with an RBI single five pitches later to give King an early 1-0 lead.

While King's bats were stymied by a combination of Madison Burnett's pitching and two defensive gems by Newberry right fielder Ashlen Ayres, Hannah Light kept the Wolves at bay. Despite retiring Newberry in order just once during her seven innings of work, Light was able to use her offspeed pitches to keep the Wolves' hitters off balance and escape a number of dangerous situations. None loomed larger than in the third inning, when a single, a walk, and a hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs. Light got ahead in the count against Hosking, then induced a groundout to Samantha Cole at second base on an 0-2 count to keep the Wolves off the scoreboard.

Newberry saved its most dangerous threat for the final inning, however. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Light allowed an infield single and a groundout to start the inning to move the tying run into scoring position with one out. Another infield single put the winning run aboard, and a groundout to the right side of the infield put the tying and winning runs in scoring position with two outs and Newberry's most powerful batter, cleanup hitter Darrian Jamison, at the plate. But Light coaxed a ground ball to third base from Jamison on a 2-2 count to preserve the win for the Tornado.

The second game was another low-scoring affair and featured a pitcher's duel between Light and Newberry's Brittany Middleton. The Wolves left a runner at third base in the first inning, then would not have another batter reach safely until the fourth.

In that fourth inning, a walk sandwiched between two singles loaded the bases with one out. Hailey Drawe grounded into a fielder's choice in which Cassie Ringstaff erased Gabby Bedard coming to the plate for the second out of the inning. Light then got Jennifer Yancey to fly out to right field and leave the bases loaded for Newberry. She would not allow another hit during the rest of the game.

Half an inning later, King also left the bases loaded, but not before scoring its only run of the game to take the 1-0 lead. With two outs and a runner on first, Cole and Amber Walker laced consecutive singles to load the bases for Octavia Lewis-Rand, who went 3-for-5 with a game-winning RBI double in Friday's doubleheader against Bloomsburg. Lewis-Rand again provided the game-winning score for the Tornado, this time on an RBI single through the left side that allowed King's Amber Walker to score the Tornado's only run of the game.

Light made the lead last through the final three frames for Newberry, setting down the Wolves in order in the fifth and sixth innings and working around a leadoff walk in the seventh. Light allowed just two hits in the second game with two walks. On the day, she threw 198 pitches to allow eight hits and struck out 10 batters.

King returns to action on Wednesday with a pair of Conference Carolinas games at Belmont Abbey College rescheduled from March 16. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.