HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The King College Lady Tornado softball team defeated North Greenville University, 4-1, on Sunday in the championship tilt to earn the College's first-ever Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship. The win on Sunday clinches a spot in the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament.
Freshmen Cora Milliken (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.) led the Lady Tornado offensively with a combination of timely hitting, strong base running, and one big bomb that shifted the momentum to King's side of the diamond. Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) pitched yet another stellar complete-game victory to complete an incredible run in the circle and lead to her being named Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.
Tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, senior outfielder Tiffany Harris (Tazewell, Va.) hit a leadoff double against North Greenville starter Rachel Glazebrook. The lineup turnover over to the top where Aubree Hutt poked a floater that fell into shallow center field, scoring Harris from second. After Milliken replaced Hutt at first following a fielder's choice, freshman shortstop Christina Melcher continued to swing a hot stick, belting a two-run homer well over the left center field fence.
Melcher's home run, her third of the tournament, capped off a three-run inning for King and put them ahead of the Crusaders, 4-1. Sophomore hurler Hannah Light continued her incredible run through the tournament by striking out the side in the sixth and then retiring the side in order to complete an incredible line of work that included six strikeouts and only one run allowed over seven innings in the circle.
North Greenville put two on and brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the sixth, the only scare the Crusaders gave following their lone run in the opening inning. After light struck out catcher Amy Nagel looking, she walked back-to-back batters. After a short conference at the mound brought calmness to the first-year Lady Tornado ace, she punched out the next two hitters in succession to end the threat.
In her final inning of work, Light easily put out the top two hitters in the NGU lineup. Sarah Armstrong grounded out to second base, where Milliken took the grounder to the bag herself, followed by a harmless fly out to left by Kimberly Robertson. With two down, the last hope laid on pitcher Rachel Glazebrook. On a 1-2 pitch, Glazebrook lofted a high, fly ball to deep right field. Tiffany Harris chased the ball down on the warning track and made the catch as she fell into the wall for the final out of the game, clinching the 2012 Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship.
The championship is King College's first Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship in just its first year in the league.
Both teams swapped runs in the opening frame to begin play. King plated its first run as a result of Cora Milliken's one-out double and an error by NGU catcher Amy Nagel. Milliken swiped third while Chrissy Melcher was at the plate. Rachel Glazebrook struck out Melcher swinging, but Nagel's misplay on the pitch resulted in Melcher reaching first and Milliken scoring from third.
North Greenville responded in the bottom of the frame with three of its five total hits on the day. Kansas Wofford hit a RBI single, scoring Kimberly Robertson from third.
Glazebrook led the Crusaders with two of the team's five hits, each coming in the first three innings.
After Glazebrook's second hit of the day in the third inning, Light did not allow another hit the rest of the day. She retired 15 of her final 18 batters faced, allowing two walks in the sixth and one runner reaching on an error in the field.
Three King players were named to the All-Tournament team, while Light earned the most prestigious honor when she was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Light pitched all four games for the Tornado, recording every out along the way. She finished the tournament with a 4-0 record, threw 33.0 innings in four starts, struck out 23, and allowed only nine runs while possessing a 1.91 earned run average.
Cora Milliken, Tiffany Harris, and Christina Melcher were among the 13 players named to the All-Tournament team. Milliken hit a team-high .467 in 15 plate appearances while also leading the team with seven hits, four of those doubles. She was one of three players to record RBIs for King, ending the tournament with three. Melcher was the biggest offensive spark, tallying three home runs and a team-best 10 RBI. She hit home runs in three games, two of which gave her team the lead. Tiffany Harris was third on the team in batting average (.385), going 5-for-13 and had 14 put outs in right field.
The win qualified King for its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Regional Tournament. The regional tournament will begin May 4 and go through May 6 at a location to be determined at a later date. More regional tournament details will be provided when available.
MVP- Hannah Light- King College
Cora Milliken- King College
Christina Melcher- King College
Tiffany Harris- King College
Rachel Glazebrook- North Greenville University
Courtney Campbell- North Greenville University
Sarah Armstrong- North Greenville University
Kirstyn Burleson- Limestone College
Jenna Guse- Limestone College
Keeya Turner- Queens University of Charlotte
Chantel Dodge- Queens University of Charlotte
Jaclin Poole- Coker College
Larissa Shannon- Erskine College