FRANKLIN SPRINGS, Ga. – In a pair of games that were nothing alike, the King University softball team came away with a sweep of Emmanuel College in the regular season finale. The Tornado took game one 3-0 behind a three-run home run from Chrissy Melcher before registering 20 hits in their 15-7 victory in the nightcap.
Game one was a pitcher's duel between Morgan Lowe of King and Martie Rogers of Emmanuel. Lowe was nearly perfect on the day, only allowing three hits and one walk while keeping the Lions (10-25, 2-11 CC) scoreless on the evening.
Following a one-out walk in the first, Lowe retired eight straight batters before Emmanuel registered their first hit of the contest in the fourth inning. The Lions got another runner in the frame due to a Tornado error, but Lowe stranded both runners to keep the game scoreless.
Amber Palmer registered the first hit for King (17-25, 11-9 CC), a leadoff single, but she was stranded in the inning. After Lowe escaped the bottom of the fourth, the Tornado offense struck in the top of the fifth. Samantha Cole worked a leadoff walk before Tori McComas reached on an error. Melcher then dealt the big blow, a three run home run, scoring three and giving King a 3-0 lead.
That was all Lowe needed as she sat the Lions down in order in the fifth before working around a single in the sixth. In the seventh Emmanuel registered a one-out hit, but Lowe induced a double play to end the contest and give King the victory.
The shutout marks Lowe's fourth of the season as she allowed three hits over seven innings of work and struck out five. Melcher and Palmer accounted for both of King's hits, Melcher's being her ninth home run of the season.
The nightcap was the opposite of the first as King pounded out an NCAA Division II-best 20 hits in the contest. It also marked their most hits since 2012 when the Tornado had 17 hits against Coker College.
Melcher got the ball rolling with a leadoff single to start the game in the first inning and Palmer followed with a double. The pair later came in to score on a Hannah Smith double, putting King ahead. The Tornado then got run scoring singles from Kelsey Nave and Stephanie Rodriguez before Melcher scored drove in King's final run of the inning on a ground out. In the frame, King plated seven runs on six hits.
King added another run in the second inning, but left the bases loaded in the frame. The Tornado again threatened in the third, but left a pair of runners on base before the Lions got on the board.
Emmanuel scored six runs on six hits in the frame, cutting their deficit to 8-6 after three innings. The frame was highlighted by a Brittany Abbott three-run double to right center.
However, Palmer had an answer for the Tornado in the top of the fourth as she ripped a two-run single through the left side, stretching the King lead back to four runs. The Lions added another in the fourth before King put the game out of reach in the fifth inning.
Melcher drove in Nave before Palmer scored a pair with a double and Amanda Sports followed with a double that scored Palmer to extend the King lead to 14-7. Sports added an insurance run in the seventh, giving King the 15-7 victory, and the sweep.
Lauren Smith earned the start in the circle and got the win tossing four innings and allowing seven runs, six earned. Hollyn Franklin earned the save, tossing the final three innings and allowing only one hit.
Palmer paced the record setting offense, going 4-for-6 with four runs batted in and two runs scored while Hannah Smith also went 4-for-6 and drove in two runs. Sports went 3-for-5 in the win while Melcher and Rodriguez accounted for two hits each.
King will be in action again on Friday when they take on third seeded Belmont Abbey College in the Conference Carolinas Tournament. First pitch from Burlington, N.C. is slated for 11:00 a.m.