Saints late runs lead to sweep of King
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King University softball team hosted Limestone College in a doubleheader that could have implications on Conference Carolinas seeding as the league wraps up regular season play in the coming weeks. Both games were close until the late innings when the Saints went ahead in the sixth inning of both games. Limestone took the first game 4-0 before the second game went to extra innings with Limestone taking a 2-1 victory for the sweep.
Both pitchers, Hannah Light for King and Kelly Shearer for Limestone matched each other pitch-for-pitch in both games as neither hurler allowed a base runner until one reached on an error in the second inning of game one.
In the third inning, both ninth hole hitters recorded their team's first hit. Limestone's Amanda Hayes recorded the game's first hit in the top of the frame, but was stranded by Light. Stephanie Rodriguez registered King's first hit, but she too was stranded.
The Tornado (24-24, 9-5 CC) threatened to take the lead in the fifth inning when Chrissy Melcher sparked a rally with a one-out single through the left side. Rodriguez followed with a single to left, but that was as far as the runner would get as Shearer got out of the jam.
The Saints (24-16, 8-4 CC) broke through in the sixth inning Hayes ignited the offense with a one-out triple to left center. Ashley Cox followed with a single to score her, and Sam Thornton laced a triple to center to make the score 2-0. A groundout made the score 3-0 going to the bottom of the inning.
King couldn't get the offense going against Shearer in the final two innings, and Limestone added a run in the seventh to take the contest 4-0. Light tossed all seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. Rodriguez led the offense, going 2-for-3.
The nightcap was played just as tight, with King getting the first scoring opportunity in the third inning. The Tornado runners on second and third, but couldn't get a timely hit to push them across. The Saints had their best scoring opportunity in the fifth inning, getting a pair of runners, but like Shearer, Light escaped the jam as well.
Just as they did in the first game, Limestone broke through in the sixth inning of game two. Bailie Maybry singled through the left side to start the frame before advancing to second on a foul out. She later scored on a fielding error to take a 1-0 lead.
King had answer this time, however as Cassie Ringstaff and Fallon Thomas started the next inning with ringing singles to right field to put runners on the corners. After Thomas stole second, Shearer uncorked a wild pitch, and Ringstaff broke for home. The Limestone catcher collected the rebound off of the brick backstop and made it back to the plate to tag Ringstaff out and keep the Saints in the lead. Nevertheless, Octavia Lewis-Rand got in a battle with Shearer, fouling off pitch after pitch. Finally on the 10th pitch of the at bat she ripped a single through the right side that scored Thomas to even the score at 1-1 after seven.
Neither team scored in the seventh inning, sending the game went to extra innings. With a runner placed on second due to the international tiebreaker, Limestone successfully sacrificed her to third before Maybry ripped single to left field to score her and give the Saints a 2-1 lead. Light then worked out of the inning to give the offense a chance to even the score again.
After a popout and groundout, Hannah Smith laced a single to center and Rodriguez tried to score from second to tie the game. However, Limestone centerfielder, Hayes made a good throw to the plate, and Rodriguez was tagged out to end the game, giving the Saints the 2-1 victory.
Light tossed all eight innings for the Tornado, allowing two unearned runs on five hits. Lewis-Rand led the Tornado offense going 2-for-3 with one run batted in.
King will be in action again tomorrow when they host Barton College at 1:00 p.m.