JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – King Softball dropped to 1-3 on the season following two one-run losses at the hands of Carson-Newman University on Monday afternoon. Both games featured wild endings that benefitted the hosts as the Eagles delivered 4-3 and 10-9 (F/8) losses to the Lady Tornado in their doubleheader at the Lady Eagle Softball Complex.
GAME ONE: King 3, Carson-Newman 4
The Lady Tornado had an opportunity to drive home the go-ahead run after loading the bases with two out in the top of the seventh inning. Following back-to-back singles by junior Cassie Ringstaff (Richlands, Va.) and Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.), freshman Hannah Smith grounded into a fielder's choice to keep runners at first and second with two down. Junior Fallon Thomas (Bristol, Va./Virginia H.S.) drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, setting the plate for Tori McComas.
On the first pitch of McComas' at bat, she popped the ball up to the right side of the infield that fell to the ground as the wind jostled the flight of the ball. After one runner had crossed the plate with a second on its way, a conference between the official determined that there was contact between Thomas and second baseman Elayna Siebert up the baseline and runner interference was ruled to wipe away all runs and record the final out of the game.
King possessed a 3-1 lead going into the bottom half of the second inning after Macy Shupe (Toledo, Ill.) hit a triple to right field and capitalized on a throwing error by second baseman Sara Kelley to complete the trip around the bases. The error also allowed Aubree Hutt (Bristol, Va./Virginia H.S.) to advance to third after she walked to get on base. A passed ball by pitcher Cassie Lyons allowed Hutt to score from third, giving King the early lead.
Carson-Newman posted runs in the bottom the second, third, and fifth innings to slowly come from behind and take a lead. The Eagles plated runs in consecutive innings with RBI doubles by Caitlyn Lance and Sara Kelley and then scored the eventual winning run with Bethany Davis' run-scoring double in the fifth, plating Elayna Siebert for the second time in the game.
Hannah Light (1-1) took the loss after throwing 6.0 innings and allowed four runs on 10 hits. She struck out five hitters but allowed as many doubles to CNU.
GAME TWO: King 9, Carson-Newman 10 (F/8)
Down 7-4 going into their final at bats, King muscled three runs in the top of the seventh to force extra-innings with the Eagles. The Lady Tornado pounded out three straight hits to open the inning beginning with a double that painted the left field chalk by Cassie Ringstaff. After a single by Chrissy Melcher put runners on the corners, freshman Hannah Smith (Bristol, Va./Virginia H.S.) put another King hit down the left field line for two bases, scoring Ringstaff easily and making for a 7-5 score. Newcomer Macy Shupe evened the score by going opposite field with a two-run triple to score the remaining two King runners. King was unable to drive home Shupe but forced extra innings where King's momentum continued.
After placing a runner on second base to begin the inning, per NCAA Softball extra-inning rules, Chrissy Melcher stepped to the plate with two outs and sent rocket out of the Lady Eagles Softball Complex on a payoff pitch to put King up 9-7 and a chance to take away a win. The home run was Melcher's first and the team's first of the season.
Unfortunately, the fireworks had not ended but simply shifted sides as the Eagles mounted a three-run eighth inning to come from behind and steal the game away. Freshman Morgan Lowe (Damascus, Va.) entered her third inning of relief work and allowed hits to the first two batters she faced and allowing one run to score. Hannah Light reentered the game and struck out Hayley Burnette for the first out of the inning. Leadoff hitter Braleigh Angel sent a single into left, scoring the tying run and putting the game-winning run in scoring position. Jessica Morgan then stepped to the plate and hit a shot up the middle that skipped off Light's glove in the circle and fell in for a hit, to score pinch runner Cassie Elliot and end the game.
Melcher led the Lady Tornado in game two with a 3-for-5 day at the plate and three RBIs. Macy Shupe joined the sophomore with three RBIs, as well. Shupe and Melcher both put up multi-hit games in both legs of the doubleheader, combining to go 9-for-15 with six RBIs and five runs scored. Lowe (0-2) took the loss in game two after allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits over 2.2 innings pitched.
King (1-3) will return to the diamond at the KU Softball Complex to take on region foe Tusculum College beginning at 1 p.m.