BRISTOL, Tenn. – Unable to overcome its own mistakes, the King University softball team fell in both ends of a doubleheader to Tusculum College by allowing six unearned Pioneers runs on the afternoon.
In the first game, the Pioneers (14-14) scored two first-inning runs without the benefit of a hit. Leadoff batter Carolyn Williamson was hit by a pitch on a full count, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. She came around to score on a throwing error on an attempted sacrifice bunt by Miranda Beeler. Beeler then scored two batters later on a squeeze play, waiting until after the throw was released to break for home and sliding in just under Hannah Smith's tag to give Tusculum a 2-0 lead.
The Tornado (12-17) were stymied by the Pioneers' Kelly King, who earned the win by pitching a complete-game three-hitter, allowing a single run and striking out eight batters without issuing a walk. She threw just 19 balls among her 83 pitches in the winning effort. She only allowed one hit through the first 4.2 innings, and the final three batters in the Tornado lineup were the only players to record a hit.
The Pioneers struck for their first earned run of the contest to take a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning. Octavia Lewis-Rand countered by blasting a 2-1 pitch from King over the left field fence for her first home run of the season, drawing the Tornado back within two runs. But Tusculum answered with a pair of insurance runs in the seventh inning to reach their final 5-1 margin. The Pioneers were led by Tavi Parris, who went 2-for-2 with two runs batted in, and by Carolyn Williamson's two-hit day that saw her score a pair of runs.
The second game remained scoreless through the first three innings. Each team threatened by putting a runner in scoring position but were unable to take advantage and secure an early lead. Tusculum took advantage of King's mistakes in the fourth inning, however, to build a 4-0 lead. Kaytlin Stroinski struck out swinging but reached on a wild pitch, then was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. The Pioneers put two runners in scoring position on a dropped fly ball in the gap in right-center field, who then scored on an RBI groundout and a passed ball. A Paige Sneed home run plated two more runs moments later, giving the Pioneers a 4-0 lead on four unearned runs.
The momentum seemed to shift in King's favor in the sixth inning. Tusculum placed two runners in scoring position on a pair of hits in the inning, but the side was retired when Morgan Lowe induced a groundout to Cassie Ringstaff at third base. Ringstaff then laced a first-pitch single to center field, scoring two pitches later on an RBI double down the left field line by Fallon Thomas. The Tornado would draw no closer, however, and fell to the Pioneers 4-1.
Ringstaff went 3-for-3 in the second game of the day to pace the Tornado offense. The Pioneers were led by Sneed's two-run home run and a 2-for-3 day at the plate by Nicole Ball that included a run batted in. Hannah Light picked up the loss despite not allowing an earned run, pitching five innings in the second game and throwing a total of 213 pitches on the day.
King will return to action on Saturday with a doubleheader at Pfeiffer University. The first pitch of the conference series between the Tornado and Falcons will take place at 3:00 p.m.