18th rank Bears sweep Tornado in extra innings

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus
Photo taken by Rachel Burrus

HICKORY, N.C. – The King University softball team put their 10-game winning streak on the line when they traveled to take on the 18th ranked team in the country, Lenoir-Rhyne University. The Bears snapped the Tornado streak with a 6-0 win in game one before the teams squared off in a pitcher's duel in the nightcap. King held a 2-1 lead after the top of the eighth, but Lenoir-Rhyne plated two runs in the bottom of the extra frame to take the contest 3-2.

The Bears (31-8) threatened to score in the bottom of the first inning as they had a pair of runners without a hit, but King pitcher Hannah Light escaped the jam. Nevertheless, Lenoir-Rhyne broke through in the second inning when Lauren Elder sparked a two-out rally with a double to left field. Back-to-back King errors allowed the next two batters two, and two runs to score before Sydney Landreth drove in the final run with a single.

Hannah Smith recorded both of King's first two hits, the first coming in the second inning, and another in the fourth frame. However, the Tornado (22-21) couldn't muster any other hits in those innings.

The Bears added a run in the fourth inning before tacking on a pair of insurance runs on a Jody Mizelle home run in the sixth inning to take a 6-0 advantage.

The Tornado registered single hits in each the sixth and seventh innings, but that's all that Bear pitcher Maryann Hoskins allowed in the complete game victory.

For the Tornado, Light allowed six runs, three earned while scattering nine hits in six innings of work. Smith led the King offense with a pair of hits.

King didn't waste any time getting on the board in game two as Octavia Lewis-Rand started the game with a single to left field. Cassie Ringstaff then sacrificed her to second before advancing to third on a Fallon Thomas single to left field. Smith drove her in with a sacrifice fly to center field, giving King a 1-0 lead.

The Bears threatened in the bottom of the first as Mizelle reached on an error before advancing to third with two outs. However, Light get a groundout to end the inning. Lenoir-Rhyne evened the score in the second inning when Sarah Kenley ripped a home run to left field. The Bears threatened to take the lead when Mizelle ripped single to left field with runners on first and second, but Stephanie Rodriguez threw out the base runner at home to keep the score tied and end the inning.

Both pitchers, Light and Brandi Hole settled in at that point as Light didn't allow another run before exiting in the sixth. Hole was equally as impressive, not allowing another run over the next six innings to send the game to extra innings.

In the first extra frame, the Bears went to the bullpen, bringing in Hoskins to pitch. With Lewis-Rand placed on second due to the international tiebreaker, Ringstaff sacrificed her to third before Thomas drove her in with a single to give the Tornado a 2-1 advantage. King then proceeded to load the bases before Hoskins got a flyout to end the threat, which proved to be big.

After a sacrifice bunt moved a runner to third in the bottom of the inning, Elder ripped a pinch-hit double to score one run to tie the game. Cierra Cockerham then followed with another double to give the Bears the 3-2 victory.

Lewis-Rand and Thomas led the King offense with two hits apiece. Lewis-Rand scored both Tornado runs while Thomas drove in one. Smith drove in the other Tornado run, going 1-for-2 and was intentionally walked once. Light went five and two-thirds innings in the circle, allowing one run on four hits while striking out five in the no decision.

King will be in action again on Sunday when they return to Conference Carolinas play against the University of Mount Olive. First pitch from the King University campus is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.