GAFFNEY, S.C. – The King University softball team took to the road to face Conference Carolinas preseason favorite Limestone College and it looked as though the home standing Saints would take game one of the doubleheader. However, the Tornado came storming back with three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth to take the opener 7-3. King tried to come back in the nightcap, but fell short as the Saints took the split with the 5-3 victory.
Limestone (15-8, 5-1 CC) plated single runs in each of the first two innings to grab the lead before Morgan Lowe buckled down in the circle for the Tornado. Lowe allowed just one hit in the third inning before she retired eight straight Saint hitters.
However, the Tornado (4-14, 2-2 CC) couldn't get their offense going as Saint pitcher Courtney Smith was nearly as impressive over the first six innings. She stymied the King offense, only allowing two hits through the first six innings, both coming over the first two frames.
Limestone added what proved to be a very important insurance run in the sixth inning on back-to-back doubles from Emma Swearingen and Erika Hanson to start the frame.
After being held down all day, the King offense awoke in a big way in the top of the seventh, started by an Amber Walker one-out walk. Diamond Callwood then singled before Tori McComas registered a two-out single that scored Samantha Cole who pinch ran for Walker. Stephanie Rodriguez then came up with the big hit, a two-run double to right center that scored to, evening the score at 3-3. Lowe then stranded a pair of Saints in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extra innings.
In the first extra frame, Chrissy Melcher laced a double that scored Kelsie Craighead who was placed on second due to the international tiebreaker. Hannah Smith then laced a two-run home run to extend the King lead. Callwood added an insurance run when she drove in Walker, giving King a 7-3 lead. Lowe made that stand up as she sat down the Saints in order in the bottom of the frame, giving King the victory.
Lowe tossed all eight innings, scattering seven hits and allowing three runs. She also struck out three on the day. Offensively, King recorded seven of their nine hits over the final two innings, and were paced by Walker and Callwood who registered two hits apiece. Smith and Rodriguez both drove in a pair for the Tornado.
The pitching was effective again in the beginning of game two as neither team recorded a hit or a baserunner until the third inning. Amber Palmer started a two-out rally for the Tornado in the third with an infield single. Rodriguez then ripped her second double of the day, scoring Palmer to give King the early lead.
The advantage was short lived, however as the Saints answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning. Hansen registered the big blow, a three-run double, giving Limestone a 5-1 advantage.
King got single runs back in the fourth and fifth innings, both coming on Melcher home runs, but the Tornado couldn't muster any more offenses the Saints came back to take the split with the 5-3 win.
Melcher led the offense, going 2-for-3 with two home runs for the Tornado in the nightcap. Lauren Smith started in the circle and she tossed four innings, allowing five runs, four earned on five hits. Hollyn Franklin relieved her and tossed the final two innings.
King will be in action again on Tuesday when they return home to face Bluefield State College at 2:00 p.m.