GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum collected 17 runs on 25 hits in a doubleheader sweep of Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference softball action Thursday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field. The Pioneers (17-12, 2-2 SAC) defeated the Lions (10-8, 1-3 SAC) by scores of 9-3 and 8-2.
Tusculum will be on the road Saturday at Coker for a conference doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
Game 1: Tusculum 9, Mars Hill 3
The Pioneers scored in five of their six turns at-bat in the opener, building a 5-0 lead after two innings and slugging six doubles among their 12 hits. Taylor Battle went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs scored, and Emily Hester became the seventh player in program history to reach 100 career RBIs with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth.
Allison Pate (8-6) gave up three runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings for the victory for Tusculum, striking out five and walking three, and Lizzy Galloway retired all five batters she faced for her first save.
Tusculum grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning against Mars Hill starter Christiana Marasa (4-4). Battle led off with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice by Delaney Guerrero. Anna Alloway followed with a single to drive home Battle for a 1-0 lead, and Sammie West brought home Alloway with a two-out infield single to give the Pioneers a 2-0 advantage.
In the second, Emma Casey led off with a double and was still there with two outs when Battle came through with an RBI double for a 3-0 Tusculum lead. Guerrero followed with a run-scoring single to knock in Battle, then scored all the way from first on a double by Alloway as Tusculum went on top 5-0.
The Lions got on the board in the third as Ragan Broome was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on an RBI single by Ashley Evans which cut the Tusculum lead to 5-1. The Pioneers answered with a run in the bottom of the third as Hester reached on a dropped popup, and pinch-runner Courtney Gibson scored on a two-out error for a 6-1 Tusculum advantage.
The Pioneers added a run in the fourth as Guerrero walked with one out and scored on a double by Johnson which gave Tusculum a 7-1 lead. Mars Hill rallied with two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Addison Harris and Bobbi Jones, but Galloway came in with runners at first and second and retired the next two batters to keep the margin at 7-3.
Tusculum got the runs back in the bottom of the sixth as Battle led off with a double and Alloway followed with a one-out walk. After a groundout, Hester doubled home Battle and pinch-runner Tori West to become the seventh player in program history to drive home 100 runs and just the third in the Division II era, joining Brie Griffin (139 from 2004-07) and Kaytlin Stroinski (123 from 2012-15).
Alloway finished 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs batted in for the Pioneers, while West went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Guerrero went 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored and Johnson finished 2-for-4 with an RBI in the game-one victory.
Eight different players accounted for the eight hits in game one for Mars Hill, with Evans finishing 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Broome reached twice on a walk and a hit by pitch, with a run scored.
Marasa worked one-plus innings for Mars Hill in game one, allowing three runs on five hits to the seven batters she faced. Casey Stanek gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief, with Ashley Collins allowing two runs on three hits in the final 2 1/3 innings.
Game 2: Tusculum 8, Mars Hill 2
The Pioneers again took a 5-0 lead over the Lions, fueled by a four-run fourth inning, and Taylor Plemons (6-5) scattered seven hits and struck out four in her seventh complete game of the season for Tusculum. Five different players had two hits apiece as part of a 13-hit attack for the Pioneers in the victory.
All nine starters reached base safely via hit or walk in game two, led by Alloway and West who each went 2-for-3 with Alloway driving in two runs and West scoring a pair. Casey finished 2-for-3 with a double and Brittney Franse was 2-for-2 with a run scored, while Battle was 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, a run scored and an RBI.
Marasa got the start in game two for the Lions and worked around a single by Battle and a walk to Johnson to keep the Pioneers off the board in the first. In the second, Tusculum took a 1-0 lead as West led off with an infield single, moved up on a sacrifice by Casey and took third on an infield single by Franse. Morgan Mahaffey then laid down a squeeze bunt to knock home West with the game's first run.
The Pioneers broke the game open in the fourth as Casey led off with a double and pinch-runner Gibson scored when Franse's bunt single was thrown away at first base. Mahaffey doubled home Franse for a 3-0 Tusculum lead, and Battle greeted reliever Cristi Pressley with an RBI single to drive home Mahaffey. Alloway came through with a one-out single which knocked in Battle and gave the Pioneers a 5-0 lead.
Mars Hill scored in the top of the fifth as a single and walk with two outs was followed by a run-scoring single by Stanek. The Pioneers responded in the bottom of the fifth as West and Casey led off with singles and moved up on a sacrifice by Franse. While Mahaffey was batting, a pickoff throw to third base was mishandled which allowed West to score for a 6-1 Pioneer lead.
The Lions' Jordan Harris delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the top of the sixth to cut the Tusculum lead to 6-2, but the Pioneers scored twice in its half of the sixth as Guerrero led off with a single and scored on a double by Alloway, and pinch-runner Tori West came home on a squeeze bunt from Sammie West.
Plemons stranded nine runners on base as she walked one and hit three batters in addition to the seven hits allowed. Broome led the Lions at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while Cassidy Allen went 1-for-2 with a walk.
Marasa (4-5) took her second loss of the day after giving up four runs on six hits in three-plus innings for Mars Hill. Pressley surrendered four runs (three earned) on six hits in two-plus innings of relief, with Brittany Duncan giving up one hit and striking out two in a scoreless inning of work.