King's NCAA-record four twin killings highlights sweep of Barton

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus
Photo taken by Rachel Burrus

BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King University softball team wrapped up its regular season with a series sweep of Barton College on Sunday afternoon in league play, using a series of stellar defensive plays to tie an NCAA record with four double plays in the afternoon's second contest.

King (26-24, 11-5 Conference Carolinas) became the sixth team in NCAA Division II history to accomplish the feat, which has not occurred since Central Washington's four twin killings in a game against Montana State-Billings on April 28, 2011. Cheyenne Delffs began the run for the Tornado when she caught a fly ball at medium depth in right field for the second out of the second inning, then fired home to gun down Kendra Kassonie trying to score on the play.

In the next inning, Taylor Bowden bunted just in front of the plate with no outs and Alex Baylis on first base. Catcher Fallon Thomas picked up the ball and fired to Cassie Ringstaff covering at first, but Baylis attempted to take third as both corner infielders had come in to defend against the bunt attempt. Ringstaff threw to Hannah Smith, who was beaten to third but applied the tag as Baylis slid just past the base and was unable to scramble back to the bag.

Barton's (17-18-1, 6-7-1 Conference Carolinas) Rachel Jordan lifted a popup midway down the first base line in foul territory in the fourth inning that Thomas attempted to field. The ball popped out of her glove, but Hannah Light was there to pick the ball out of the air for the out. She then threw to Amber Walker at first to catch the Barton runner leaning off the bag on a baserunning blunder. The Tornado turned a conventional 4-6-3 twin killing in the top of the seventh inning for the record-tying play.

King fell behind 1-0 on an RBI fielder's choice in the second inning but responded with two runs in the third on a Delffs RBI single and a fielding error by the Bulldogs. The Tornado tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning. The first came on a sacrifice fly by Tori McComas to stretch King's lead to 3-1. The final two came on a pair of errors on a hard-hit ground ball by Ringstaff through the right side of the infield that rolled all the way to the wall.

King honored its trio of seniors prior to the doubleheader, and senior Hannah Light twirled another masterful game in her penultimate start of the season. She allowed one unearned run on three hits and had six strikeouts in the day's first seven-inning affair. She retired the last seven Bulldogs to come to the plate in order, and the game's last five outs came via a strikeout, a popout to Light, and three straight groundouts to Light.

King took an early 1-0 lead on a second-inning RBI double on the first pitch of the day to Chrissy Melcher, who was 5-for-7 at the plate for the day. After an unearned run tied the game in the top of the third, Octavia Lewis-Rand coaxed a 12-pitch walk to open the bottom of the frame, then moved to second on a bunt single by Cassie Ringstaff. A first-pitch two-run double down the left field line by Cheyenne Delffs gave the Tornado a 3-1 lead.

King nearly scored again on a fielder's choice by Stephanie Rodriguez in the fourth inning, but Melcher was gunned down at the plate for the second out of the inning. Neither team would mount a serious scoring threat during the remainder of the contest.

King's pair of wins position the Tornado to potentially earn a share of the Conference Carolinas title. The Tornado currently sit in second place in the league standings. Erskine, North Greenville, and Limestone are all mathematically alive for the conference championship, with Limestone currently residing atop the standings. The Tornado will not take the field again until Conference Carolinas play begins on Friday, April 25 in Burlington, N.C.