BRISTOL, Tenn. – King celebrated the careers of three outstanding seniors but could not continue the celebration after being beaten by Mount Olive College in both games of Saturday's doubleheader, 6-3 and 4-0.
GAME ONE: Mount Olive 6, King 3
The Crusaders opened up with a four-run lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. The Lady Tornado had mustered only two hits to that point, but the bats started to wake up and make the game interesting with a three-run fifth inning to draw within one run.
Aubree Hutt (Bristol, Va.) led the inning off with an infield single, followed by hot-hitting Chrstina Melcher's single up the middle to put two on with no outs. Cora Millken (Jacksonville, Fla.) cranked a double to the deepest part of center field, scoring both runners and prompting a Trojans pitching change. King pushed one more run across the plate on an infield putout to the right side, making the score 4-3, but struggled getting any more offense together against the hard-throwing reliever.
King only had one base runner between the sixth and seventh innings, stalling any comeback while Mount Olive added two insurance runs in their half of the sixth.
Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) struck out the side in each of her first two innings of work, but the Trojans began to rough up the sophomore, tallying 12 hits and six runs, four earned, over her seven innings of work. Light (L, 14-4) struck out 10 total hitters, setting a new season and career high.
Mount Olive went double-or-bust in the second and third innings as four of their first five hits were two baggers. The Trojans put one run up in the second and third innings with two doubles in each frame. They scored twice more in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead after Christina Melcher's error at short extended the inning and Katie Moore hit a two RBI double to left. Rebekah McDaniel hit a leadoff, solo home run to begin the sixth inning while Danielle Mitchell hit a run-scoring double down the left field line to account for their sixth run.
GAME TWO: Mount Olive 4, King 0
Despite the fact that the Lady Tornado outhit the Trojans in game two, they struggled to get runners home. King stranded seven runners on the base paths in the nightcap, all in scoring position.
Rachael Wilmoth (Morristown, Tenn.) pitched at her best through six innings, allowing only one run (unearned) in the fifth before the Trojans scored three times in the final frame. She struck out three Mount Olive hitters and walked only one, but moved the ball around and kept hitters off balance al day long.
An error in the fifth led to Mount Olive's first run after pinch runner Megan Ready scored from second on Jennifer Jones' single to right field. Wilmoth retired the Trojans in order three times over the first six inning before the visitors put three insurance runs on the board in the top of the seventh. Christie Wright doubled home Robbin Kennedy and later scored on a fielder's choice before a third King error allowed one final run to score.
King led the seventh off with Aubree Hutt's second hit of the day, but Lauren Smith earned her second save of the day, retiring the next three Lady Tornado batters in order to end the game.
King honored three seniors prior to Saturday's games as they begin to conclude their collegiate careers. Kendall Brabson (Bean Station, Tenn.), Tiffany Harris (Tazewell, Va.), and Christy Kooch (Knoxville, Tenn.) were all recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the Lady Tornado Softball program, as well as the King College community. Stephanie Mueller was also recognized for her contributions to the program as King's first softball All-American in its six-year history.
With the two losses, King drops to 27-16 overall and 11-9 in league play with two conference games to play. The Lady Tornado still hold on to the sixth spot in the Conference Carolinas playoff picture (by winning percentage) and will lock up their spot with one win against St. Andrews.
The team will take to the road against Tusculum for their final non-conference series of the season on Sunday, April 15, for two beginning at 1:00 p.m. King will conclude their season with a doubleheader against St. Andrews on Tuesday, April 17, at home.