HARROGATE, Tenn. – Fresh off a sweep at the hands of UVa-Wise in Bristol on Tuesday afternoon, the King University softball team fell to Lincoln Memorial University in a pair of nonconference games by scores of 3-2 and 8-0.
The Tornado (2-7) built a 2-0 lead in the early innings of the first game before the Lady Railsplitters (10-2) were able to mount a comeback. King grabbed the lead in the first frame, using a two-out double to deep center from Fallon Thomas and an RBI single to right field by Hannah Smith to take the advantage.
King would double its lead two innings later, as Thomas, Smith, and Amber Walker hit consecutive one-out singles to load the bases before Tori McComas hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop. The ball was fired home, but not before Thomas crossed the plate, giving King a 2-0 lead.
Lincoln Memorial was stymied by King's Hannah Light in the early going, with Light facing the minimum through three no-hit innings. A one-out bunt single in front of the plate in the fourth inning gave the Lady Railsplitters their first hit of the game and sparked a rally. A walk and a fielder's choice put runners on the corners with one out for Payton Bruce, who laced an RBI triple to right field to tie the game.
Neither team was able to mount a serious threat until the bottom of the sixth inning. After a leadoff walk, Amanda Snow singled through the right side and advanced to second on the throw as King tried to punch out Brianna Mulkey while attempting to take an extra base. But both runners were safe, and Payton Bruce's RBI sacrifice fly to right field gave the Lady Railsplitters the lead and the final 3-2 advantage.
Hannah Light pitched well in defeat for the Tornado, giving up three runs, all earned on four hits in six innings of work. Toole earned the win for Lincoln Memorial, pitching three innings of no-hit relief.
Thomas was impressive at the plate for the Tornado, finishing 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. She also accounted for both of King's runs. Smith was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. McComas, Chrissy Melcher, and Amber Walker had King's other hits in the game as the Tornado outhit Lincoln Memorial 7-4 in the contest.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Lady Railsplitters bats came alive early and often in Lincoln Memorial's 8-0 victory in five innings. The Lady Railsplitters scored two runs in the first inning and another pair in the third inning off King's Morgan Lowe, who gave up five earned runs in four innings of work. Light gave up another three runs in relief.
The Tornado mustered just two hits in the contest. Melcher led off the game with a solid single up the middle but was erased on a double play moments later to end the inning. An Allie Spell double to left-center with two outs in the second inning represented King's only other hit of the game.
King nearly got on the board in the third inning after two walks to open the frame. Both baserunners advanced into scoring position after the relay throw from Lincoln Memorial was errant on a flyout to right field. Cassie Ringstaff attempted to score and cut into LMU's 2-0 lead on a wild pitch but was gunned down as she crossed the plate, and a groundout moments later ended the Tornado threat. King would not have a runner advance past first base for the remainder of the afternoon.
King will return to action on Friday at the Pioneer Classic, hosted by Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn. The Tornado will play five games during the three-day event, beginning with matchups against No. 23 Kutztown University and East Stroudsburg University at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Friday.