BRISTOL, Tenn. – A Conference Carolinas Tournament berth drew two steps closer to the Lady Tornado's grasp after sweeping Coker College on Thursday afternoon. Christina Melcher hit a perfect 9-for-9 at the plate between two games, helping King to record its second straight run-rule victory, 12-1 (F/5), and then capped the day off with a come-from-behind 11-6 victory through a seven-run, sixth inning.
GAME ONE: Coker 1, King 12 (F/5)
Sophomore pitcher Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) breezed through the Coker lineup and received plenty of offensive support from a lineup that pounded out 12 runs on 12 hits and three Coker errors in a 12-1 victory. Light earned her 14th win of the season and carried a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Sydney Weatherford broke it up with a triple and later scored on Jaclin Poole's RBI double. Light struck out six Cobra hitters with at least one punchout in each of her five innings of work while walking none.
The offense was led by freshman shortstop Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.) with her 4-for-4 performance at the plate, scoring all four times and batting in three runs. She was one of a trio of players to record three RBI. Aubree Hutt (Bristol, Va.) went 3-for-3 with three singles.
King got on the board early after Melcher led the game off with a triple and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Fallon Thomas. King scored 10 runs over the next two innings to jump out to an 11-0 lead, batting through the lineup in each frame.
Cassie Ringstaff (Richlands, Va.) led the second inning off with a triple to the right corner and Hutt followed with a bunt single and stolen base to put runners at second and third. After Tiffany Harris walked to load the bases, Melcher approached the plate with one out and drove a liner over the Coker third baseman's head for a two RBI single. A single by Cora Milliken (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a second sacrifice fly by Fallon Thomas capped off the four-run inning, but served as a warm up for the next inning.
King collected four singles and capitalized on a throwing error by Cobra third baseman Alex Cataldo in a six-run third. Melcher put up her fourth ribbie of the day, singling home Hutt to extend the King lead to six runs. Milliken followed with a two RBI single to right and a walk plus Kendall Brabson's single loaded the bases with one out. An interference call in the field gave Coker a second out, but Milliken scored on the play to make the score 9-0. Back-to-back singles from Ringstaff and Hutt, her second via a bunt, helped plate two more runs and take an 11-0 lead.
With an 11-run lead heading into the top of the fifth, Light shut down the 8-9-1 hitters of the Cobra order to end the game by run-rule, 12-1.
GAME TWO: Coker 6, King 11
Game two was a back-and-forth battle that forced King into a 6-4 deficit heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, prompting another clutch performance and leading to an 11-6 come-from-behind victory.
Tied 1-1 going into the fifth inning, both teams swapped three-spots to continue the roller coaster of emotions that had been rode throughout the afternoon. Heading into her sixth inning of work, sophomore pitcher Rachael Wilmoth allowed a leadoff single to Katellyn Szupello that was followed by a home run by Bryant McLendon who had just reentered the game.
Leading 6-4, King relied on Christina Melcher to again pick up the offensive effort, where she singled to right center, followed by a single by Cora Milliken. Coker decided to reenter starting pitcher Katie Lee after using Becky Dillon to get out of the fifth. Lee was tagged with four hits before recording an out, including a two-run single by Kristie Kooch (Knoxville, Tenn.) that gave the Lady Tornado a 7-6 advantage. The barrage continued when Cassie Ringstaff blasted a towering three-run home run, her third of the season, over the left field wall that deflated the Cobras and put King in charge by a 10-6 score. The Lady Tornado turned the order over and another RBI single by Melcher added an 11th run for good measure.
Hannah Light (15-4) came in for the final two innings and earned her 15th win after King exploded in the sixth, shutting down the Cobra attack with three strikeouts and allowing two hits in the final two frames.
King jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after two scoreless innings when Christina Melcher led off the third with a single to left and a three-base error by Cataldo allowed her to score on the next play. The Cobras tied it up after a walk put Sydney Weatherford on base and she scored from third on a wild pitch from Wilmoth.
Coker put three on the board and took a 4-1 lead in the fifth taking advantage of two missed bunt assignments by the King infield plus an error in the field to load the bases. Sarah Rountree singled through the left side to plate one while Weatherford and Stacy Burr each put up RBI singles.
The Lady Tornado responded on their next at bat when Christina Melcher led the inning off with a solo blast to left field, drawing them within two runs. Three consecutive singles from the 2-3-4 hitters in the King lineup helped pull within one run and MacKenzie Draine (Church Hill, Tenn.) posted her third hit of the day, a single down the left field line to tie the score back at four runs, leading into the sixth inning dramatics.
Draine tallied a season-high three hits with one double and a RBI to stabilize the bottom of the King order. Melcher went a flawless 5-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI to bring a perfect day to a close after recording hits in all nine plate appearances, finishing with seven runs scored, and five runs batted in. Her homer in the fifth was her third of the season.
King (27-14) has now won eight of its last 10 games dating back to March 31 and has now posted 10 or more runs in its last three contests, including two games ended by run rule. They have outscored the competition 37-8 in their last three games and have moved one step closer to securing a spot in the Conference Carolinas Tournament, improving to 11-7 in league play.
The Lady Tornado has four conference games left to play, all at home, with series against Mount Olive and St. Andrews. The team will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday, April 14, against the Trojans (27-15, 13-5) beginning at 2:00 p.m. King is currently 21-7 (.750) at home this season.