Lady Tornado Softball Split Doubleheader to Open Season

Hannah Light carried her momentum from last season to start off this season with a complete-game shutout.  King fell in the second half of the doubleheader.

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Junior Hannah Light (Coeburn, Va.) pitched a complete-game shutout to lead King University to a 3-0 season-opening win against Young Harris College.  Darby Stanford pitched a complete-game to help split the doubleheader for the Mountain Lions with a 6-2 win in game two.

Game 1: King 3, Young Harris 0

Light struck out six, and allowed no runs on five hits with just one walk, and the Lady Tornado opened their season with a 3-0 win over Young Harris.   Only two runners reached second base for the Mountain Lions for the whole game.

King got off to a slow start offensively, but Young Harris pitcher Katie-Jo Gentry struggled in the bottom-of-the-third as she walked senior Mackenzie Draine (Church Hill, Tenn.), hit sophomore Stephanie Rodriguez (Lake Mary, Fla.), and walked junior Cassie Ringstaff (Richlands, Va.) to load the bases with two out.  Freshman Hannah Smith (Bristol, Va.) then hit a grounder to shortstop Stacia Williams but Williams' throw to third to try to get a force out sailed over third baseman Jen Spradling's head, allowing Rodriguez and Draine to score on the error to give King a 2-0 lead.

The Lady Tornado were also helped by Young Harris' defense in the bottom-of-the-fifth as Rodriguez reached on an error by left fielder Sydnee Weaver.  Ringstaff then beat out a grounder deep in the hole at short to give her an RBI as Rodriguez scored to make it 3-0 King.  Ringstaff's infield hit was the first hit of the day for the Lady Tornado.

That was all the support Light needed as she was strong for the entire day to earn her first win of the year.  Gentry pitched admirably for the Mountain Lions as well.  Gentry took the tough loss and gave up just two hits, three runs (all unearned), two walks, and had three strikeouts in her six-inning complete-game.

Game 2: Young Harris 6, King 2

Young Harris (2-6) picked up its second complete-game of the day, this time from Darby Stanford who gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and had eight strikeouts, to lead Young Harris to a 6-2 win in the second half of the doubleheader.

King (1-1) got off to a quick start in game two.  Rodriguez hustled out an infield hit to lead off the bottom-of-the-first.  After a sac bunt and a groundout advanced Rodriguez to third with two out, sophomore Christina Melcher (Orlando, Fla.) singled to right field to score Rodriguez and give King a 1-0 lead.

The Mountain Lions knotted the score in the top-of-the-third on a base hit to left by Jen Spradling to score Kayla Jones, who reached earlier on an infield single.

Young Harris threatened to break the tie in the fifth as freshman starter Morgan Lowe (Damascus, Va.) walked the bases loaded.  Lowe then threw a wild pitch with Sarah Magill at the plate which allowed Spradling to score to give Young Harris a 2-1 lead.  Tori Dyer advanced to third and Williams went to second on the play.  Later in the at bat, Magill blasted a double to left-center to score Dyer and Williams and stretch the lead to 4-1.

Lowe was then pulled in favor of freshman Morgan White (Suwanee, Ga.).  Lowe took the loss in her first collegiate start, going 4 and 2/3 innings and giving up four earned runs on seven hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts.

Senior Aubree Hutt (Bristol, Va.) tried to get King back in it in the bottom-of-the-fifth as she reached on a throwing error by Stanford and advanced to second.  Hutt then stole third and scored on the errant throw by catcher Sarah Magill to make it 4-2 Mountain Lions.

The Lady Tornado would not get closer though as Paige Sexton walked to begin the top-of-the-sixth.  Jones followed that with a two-run blast over the left field wall to push the lead up to 6-2 in favor of Young Harris, which would end up being the final score.  Jones went two-for-four with two RBI and two runs scored to lead Young Harris offensively in game two.

King tried to get back in the game in the last half of the sixth as Smith doubled to left center and Melcher singled and advanced to second on an error to give King runners at second and third with no outs.  Stanford made some clutch pitches though and retired the next three Lady Tornado batters to end the threat.

White pitched 2 and 1/3 innings in her first appearance as a collegiate pitcher.  She gave up two earned runs on two hits and had three walks for King University.

The Lady Tornado will be back in action at Carson-Newman on Monday, Feb. 11 with the first pitch of a doubleheader slated for 2 p.m.  King will be back at home against Tusculum with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.