GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – King Softball found activity from all part of the Lady Tornado lineup in a Sunday split with the Tusculum Pioneers. After dropping game one in a close-knit 3-2 decision, the King bats ran amuck, scoring eight runs on 11 hits in an 8-2 win.
GAME ONE: King 2, Tusculum 3
Both teams threatened to score over the first three innings of play but Tusculum struck first with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Katie Brennan hit a run-scoring triple with one out and was followed by a single to right center by Lindsey Umberger to give Tusculum an early lead.
Using a Tusculum error as an extra out to play with, Hannah Light put down a bunt to the right side, scoring Cassie Ringstaff who led the inning off with a single. King loaded the bases with two outs when Stephanie Rodriguez beat out an infield single to score their second run and tie the game, 2-2. Aubree Hutt was cut down at the plate on an errant pitch to end the inning.
Tusculum wasted no time to take back to the lead in the bottom of the fifth, when Katy Stuckwish beat out her batted ball to short and advanced on a throwing error. After being advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, Stuckwish scored on a groundout to short to score the eventual winning run, hit by Katie Gross.
Rachael Wilmoth (L, 12-8) pitched another solid game, allowing only three runs in her six innings of work. Stephanie Rodriguez (Lake Mary, Fla.) led the team offensively with two hits and a run scored.
GAME TWO: King 8, Tusculum
The Lady Tornado bats came alive in game two, putting up eight runs on 11 hits against the Pioneers. King defeated Tusculum to avoid the season sweep, 8-2.
Aubree Hutt scored twice over the first two innings while King put up four quick runs against Pioneer pitcher Kaytlin Stroinski. The Bristol, Va., native led the game off with a single up the middle and later came around to score on Christina Melcher's double to left field. Fallon Thomas (Bristol, Va.) drove in Melcher with a single up the middle, giving King a 2-0 lead after one inning of play.
They continued to tack on runs when a walk to Stephanie Rodriguez and an error in the field cost Tusculum two more runs in the top of the second. With the bases loaded and no outs, Tusculum cut down one run at the plate but Christina Melcher's deep fly ball gave King a 3-2 lead and a throwing error on the same play allowed Hutt to score, as well.
Melcher and MacKenzie Draine each drove in run in subsequent innings, driving the King lead to 5-1 by the end of the fifth inning. Cora Milliken (Jacksonville, Fla.) delivered the final offensive blow with a two-run single up the middle with the bases loaded, scoring Cassie Ringstaff and Hannah Light.
Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) earned her 15th victory of the season, limiting the Tusculum lineup to only four hits and two runs in game two. She fell one strikeout shy of tying her career high that was set in her last game against Mount Olive, finishing with nine and walking none.
King (28-17, 11-9) has sealed its placed in the 2012 Conference Carolinas Tournament, currently sitting in the sixth seed spot. They have two games remaining with St. Andrews Presbyterian College on Tuesday, April 17. Regardless of the outcome, the Tornado has locked itself into the sixth seed (by winning percentage) and will play three-seed Queens University of Charlotte in the opening round. First pitch against the Black Knights is set for 2:00 p.m. at the King College Softball Complex.