GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum softball team opened its 2018 season with a doubleheader sweep of Claflin on Friday at Red Edmonds Field, winning 13-5 in five innings in game one and taking game two by a score of 11-1 in five innings.
The Pioneers (2-0) are scheduled to return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at home against Concord, beginning at 2 p.m. Claflin dropped to 0-6 with the losses.
Game 1: Tusculum 13, Claflin 5 (5 innings)
Anna Alloway hit a three-run home run on the first swing of her college career as part of a five-run first inning, and the Pioneers piled up 12 hits in four turns at bat against the Panthers. All nine starters scored at least one run for the Pioneers, with seven reaching base safely at least twice.
Morgan Mahaffey finished 2-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI for the Pioneers, while Brittney Franse and Taylor Battle each were 2-for-3 with an RBI. Battle also stole a base and scored a pair of runs. Delaney Guerrero was 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, and Sammie West was 1-for-2 with two walks, two stolen bases and a pair of runs scored.
The Pioneers jumped on Claflin starter LaKaylin Lee (0-3) for five runs in the first inning. West led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Guerrero for a 1-0 Tusculum lead. With two outs, Emma Casey doubled to put runners on second and third for Alloway, who launched a 1-0 pitch over the fence in dead center field to extend the Pioneer advantage to 4-0. Battle then reached on a bunt single, stole second and scored on a pop fly that was mishandled to cap the first-inning outburst.
Tusculum came right back with four more runs in the second. Mahaffey and West led off with back-to-back walks, and moved up on a wild pitch. Guerrero then tripled to deep right-center field to drive home both runners and give the Pioneers give the Pioneers a 7-0 lead. Emily Hester followed with an RBI single for an 8-0 lead and the final run scored when pinch-runner Courtney Gibson crossed the plate on a groundout by Casey.
Claflin started a comeback bid in the top of the third against Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons, scoring three two-out runs. Kayla Cato had a two-run triple to put the Panthers on the scoreboard, and an infield single by Tiaria Norman allowed Cato to score and cut the Pioneer lead to 9-3.
In the fourth, the Pioneers put the game out of reach with four runs. Hester and Taylor Johnson led off with back-to-back walks and Casey moved the runners along with a sacrifice bunt. A sacrifice fly from Alloway drove home Hester for a 10-3 Tusculum lead, and the Pioneers added three more runs on a bunt single by Battle, a double to deep center by Franse, and an RBI single by Mahaffey.
Faced with the eight-run rule, the Panthers scored two runs in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jasmine Squirewell and an RBI single by Chelise Morman, but Plemons retired the final batter on a foul fly ball to Battle in left field to end the game.
Plemons (1-0) allowed five earned runs on seven hits in five innings for the Pioneers, striking out two and walking two while throwing 78 pitches (49 strikes). Lee was tagged for five hits and seven runs (six earned) in one-plus inning for the Panthers, with Yemaya Rich yielding six runs on seven hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
At the plate for Claflin, Lee went 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored, Norman finished 2-for-3 with double and an RBI, and Morman finished 2-for-2 with an RBI.
Game 2: Tusculum 11, Claflin 1 (5 innings)
A four-run second inning and a seven-run fourth inning, which was helped by four Claflin errors, allowed Tusculum to finish the doubleheader sweep. The Pioneers had just seven hits in the second game, but Battle and Hester each had a pair of RBIs in support of Allison Pate (1-0), who scattered three hits and struck out five while throwing just 58 pitches in a five-inning complete-game win.
Both Pate and Norman, who started game two for the Panthers, were sharp in the opening inning with two strikeouts apiece. In the second, Tusculum opened the inning with three consecutive singles off the bats of Johnson, Casey and Alloway, the latter driving in Johnson for a 1-0 Pioneer lead. Casey then scored when Battle's blooper into shallow left was turned into an out at third base, but Tusculum was able to tack on two more runs as Battle scored on a strikeout-wild pitch and Franse crossed the plate on a squeeze bunt by West.
After being held hitless by Pate for the first three innings, Claflin scored its only run of game two in the top of the fourth inning as Morman led off by drilling an 0-1 pitch deep over the left-field fence for her first home run of the season. After a double by Cato, Tusculum escaped further damage as a foul fly ball by Norman was caught by Guerrero, whose throw to the infield was gathered by Johnson at third base and relayed to the plate where Casey tagged out Cato as she tried to score from second.
The Claflin defense fell apart in the bottom of the third, as the Panthers misplayed two popups, a fly ball and a throw. Alloway led off with a single and Battle was safe when her bunt was thrown to second base and dropped. Following a successful sacrifice bunt by Franse, Mahaffey reached on a squeeze bunt as pinch-runner Emily White scored for a 5-1 Tusculum lead. After a walk to West loaded the bases, Guerrero was out on an infield fly that was dropped as all three runners advanced one base.
Hester gave the Pioneers an 8-1 lead with a two-run triple, and scored when Johnson's fly ball to right was unable to be caught. Following a walk to Casey, Alloway reached on yet another dropped popup as pinch-runner Gibson scored for a 10-1 lead. The scoring was capped by an RBI single that drove in pinch-runner Brittany Fletcher and gave the Pioneers a 10-run lead.
Alloway finished 2-for-3 with an RBI in game two for the Pioneers, while Battle was 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two runs batted in. Casey went 1-for-2 with a walk for the Pioneers, who had 10 different players score at least one run including three pinch-runners.
Norman (0-3) threw all four innings for the Panthers, giving up 11 runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out five and walking two. Besides the fourth-inning hits from Morman and Cato, the only other hit for Claflin in game two came on a pinch-single by Mercedes Howze with two outs in the fifth.