Lewis-Rand leads King to doubleheader sweep of Bloomsburg

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus

BRISTOL, Tenn. – In desperate need of wins to snap a five-game losing streak, the King University softball team picked up a pair of hard-fought victories in a doubleheader sweep of Bloomsburg University, taking decisions of 2-0 and 3-2 over the visitors from Pennsylvania.

King (14-19) got a stellar day out of Hannah Light, who went the full seven innings in both contests to pick up her 12th and 13th wins of the season. She faced just two batters over the minimum in King's 2-0 victory in the first game, allowing three hits and striking out two batters without issuing a free pass.

King's defense came up with its first stellar play of the afternoon in Game One. Bloomsburg (7-4) got its first hit with one out in the frame on an 0-2 single up the middle by center fielder Chrissy Belko. Four pitches later, catcher Lea Rehm hit a sharp grounder at Samantha Cole, who tossed to Tori McComas to begin a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and erase the runner. The Huskies would muster hits in the fourth and sixth innings but would never advance a runner past first base in the contest.

Octavia Lewis-Rand provided all the offense that King would need in the fifth inning. Cheyenne Delffs got the inning going with a one-out infield single, then Stephanie Rodriguez walked after a nine-pitch at-bat to put two runners on for Lewis-Rand. She took a 2-1 pitch to the base of the wall in center field for a double, scoring both runners and giving King its final margin of victory. Lewis-Rand and McComas each went 2-for-3 in the contest to provide four of King's six hits off of Taylor Parker, who took the loss despite allowing just two runs and throwing six less pitches than Light.

In the second game, the King offense wasted no time in building an early lead. The Tornado took advantage of Bloomsburg's Mandi Black, who threw just 14 strikes among her 32 pitches in the first inning. Lewis-Rand walked on four pitches, then advanced on a wild pitch during Cassie Ringstaff's at-bat that ended in a free pass as well. Fallon Thomas rocketed the first pitch she saw down the left field line to score King's first run of the game, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch that left two in scoring position for Hannah Smith. She sent a full-count pitch in the air to center field for a sacrifice fly to score Ringstaff and give King a 2-0 advantage.

The Tornado chased Black after the first inning but were able to push across a crucial insurance run off of the Huskies' Sarah Bertoni. After singles by Lewis-Rand and Ringstaff, Thomas again singled down the left field line to score Lewis-Rand from second.

Bloomsburg got a run back in the fifth inning on a double, an error, and a sacrifice fly to cut into King's lead. The Tornado defense would come up with a huge momentum-shifting play an inning later that truncated a potential Huskies' rally. Erika Yanora laced a two-out single to right field on the first pitch she saw from Light. Five pitches later, Bertoni hit a line drive to left center that both Lewis-Rand and Thomas attempted to chase down. Lewis-Rand appeared to injure her knee in a collision as both players dove in vain and the ball trickled to the base of the wall, allowing Bertoni to reach third base, Yanora to score from first, and the Huskies cut King's lead to 5-2. She would remain in the game after a visit from the trainer.

On the next pitch, Belko hit a screaming line drive to Light's right that seemed destined to fall in shallow left-center and roll to the wall. But McComas made a full-extension dive to her left from her shortstop position and made a shoulder-high catch before crashing to the ground on the lip of the grass, preventing an RBI that would have tied the game. The entire Tornado dugout erupted and spilled onto the field, sensing that any momentum Bloomsburg gained from Bertoni's RBI triple had been lost.

In addition to her stellar defensive work, McComas went 3-for-6 at the plate on the day. She was overshadowed, however, by Lewis-Rand, who scored three runs and batted in two during a 3-for-5 day. She also walked once.

The Tornado will return to action in a doubleheader at Newberry College on Sunday, March 23. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.