BRISTOL, Tenn. – Rachael Wilmoth was King College's workhorse in Wednesday's doubleheader with Northern Kentucky University after she pitched all but one-third of an inning in the team's split. After the Lady Tornado fell in game one, 4-1, Wilmoth finished what she had started to help lead King to a 6-5 win in the finale.
GAME ONE: NKU 4, King 1
A four-run fourth inning from the Norse made the difference in game one. Northern Kentucky had only one hit off of sophomore hurler Rachael Wilmoth (Morristown, Tenn.) leading into the fourth frame before they put up four runs on six hits. Kaylin Steinmetz led the inning off with a solo home run over to left before the bottom of the Norse lineup put up the remaining three runs on four singles.
The King offense struggled at the plate, striking out 15 times against starting pitcher Emily Schwaeble (7-1). The Tornado were turned aside in order each of the first six innings but spoiled the no-hitter and the shutout in the seventh. Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.) led the inning off with a solid single up the middle and with two out, the Tornado gave the Norse a scare when they put the tying run at the plate. Kendall Brabson (Bean Station, Tenn.) got her bat going with a single to right that scored Melcher from third on the play and Fallon Thomas drew a walk. Tiffany Harris represented the tying run at the plate but took a called third strike to end the game, 4-1.
Outside of the fourth inning, Wilmoth (4-4) allowed only two hits and five base runners in the loss.
GAME TWO: NKU 5, King 6
King survived a late scare after taking a 6-3 lead into the seventh inning when Rachael Wilmoth came out of the bullpen after starting the game. After allowing a two-out, run-scoring single to Schwaebel in the sixth inning the Tornado made the move to the bullpen where Kendall Brabson recorded the final out of the inning by forcing Dee Dee Davis to pop out to Chrissy Melcher at shortstop.
Brabson walked the first three batters of the seventh inning and with no outs, King went back to Wilmoth inside the circle to finish the deal. Jennifer Farris hit a sacrifice fly to right, allowing one run to score and put the go-ahead run at the plate. Wilmoth battled with Mandi McQueen and on a 3-2 count, painted the corner and froze her for out number two. An error in the field kept the inning alive and allowed NKU to draw within one run, but Cassie Ringstaff held down the hot corner and recorded the final out, fielding a ground ball hit down the line and stepping on the bag to end the game for a 6-5 King victory.
The Lady Tornado's bats were much more active in game two, pounding out six runs on nine hits and one NKU error. They highlighted the game with a five-run fifth inning where four of their five hits in the frame were for extra bases, including Fallon Thomas' second home run of the season.
Stephanie Rodriguez legged out a booted grounder at second base and came around to score on Chrissy Melcher's double to deep center field that rattled off the base of the wall. With two outs, King posted four straight hits, starting with Christy Kooch (Knoxville, Tenn.) matching Melcher with a RBI double to center to give the Lady Tornado a 3-2 lead. Kendall Brabson yanked a deep fly ball to left that rang off of the wall in right, scoring Kooch. Fallon Thomas (Bristol, Va.) stepped up to the plate and after fouling off three straight pitches, blasted a 3-2 delivery over the scoreboard in left center field to extend the King lead to 6-2.
Melcher extended her current hit streak to nine games after going 1-for-3 in game one and 2-for-4 in the finale. She is one game away from matching Stephanie Rodriguez's 10-game hitting streak that stands as the team season high. In game two, Christy Kooch and Kendall Brabson both notched a pair of hits while seven of the nine starters all contributed with at least one base knock. Rachael Wilmoth earned the win while striking out five Norse hitters, increasing her record this season to 5-4.
King, now 7-9 overall, will take a short break away from the King College Softball Complex with a doubleheader at Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, March 8, beginning at 2:00 p.m. They will return home for their next eight games, beginning with a doubleheader in league play against Belmont Abbey on March 17.