GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Queens came away with a doubleheader sweep of Tusculum in a South Atlantic Conference softball doubleheader on Saturday at Red Edmonds Field, winning the opener 4-1 and taking game two by a 9-5 score.
The Pioneers (22-25, 6-14 SAC) will conclude the season with a non-conference doubleheader at Milligan on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.
Game 1: Queens 4, Tusculum 1
The Pioneers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, but the Royals came back with two runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh to take the win. Courtney Pearson (15-7) allowed an unearned run on six hits and struck out three in a complete-game performance for Queens.
After Queens left two runners on base in the top of the first against Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons, the Pioneers came back in the bottom of the first as Delaney Guerrero doubled with one out and took third on a groundout, but was stranded as Pearson ended the inning with a strikeout.
The Pioneers threatened again in the second as Anna Alloway reached on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice by Emma Casey. Sammie West then singled to left to put runners on the corners, and stole second to put two runners in scoring position. A squeeze bunt attempt turned into an out as the Pioneer runner was caught off third base for the second out, and a ground out ended the inning.
Tusculum's best chance came in the third as Taylor Battle, Guerrero and Emily Hester picked up consecutive singles to lead off the inning. Pearson got the first out on a strikeout, with a grounder to third resulting in the second out at home play. Pearson then got the final out on a fly ball to right field as the game remained scoreless.
In the fourth, the Pioneers finally broke through as Morgan Mahaffey walked with two outs, and Battle followed with a double to left field. The throw to the plate was in time to retire Mahaffey, but an obstruction call on the play allowed Mahaffey to score and give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
After pitching four innings without allowing a hit and retiring 10 of the previous 11 batters, Plemons saw her first pitch of the fifth inning hit down the line in left and over the fence by Alyssa Strickler to tie the game at 1-1. The Royals took the lead later in the inning as Sara Ingoldsby doubled with two outs and scored on a pinch-hit double to right by Evie Scott.
The Royals added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh as Strickler led off with a double and Ingoldsby was hit by a pitch with two outs. Brooke Sanford then drilled a triple to deep right to score both runners and give Queens a 4-1 lead, and Pearson worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh to finish off her 17th complete game in 23 starts.
For the Pioneers, Battle and Guerrero each went 2-for-4 with a double in game one, while Mahaffey walked twice in three plate appearances. Strickler was 2-for-3 at the plate for the Royals, who had just five hits in the game but all for extra bases.
Plemons (7-9) tossed her ninth complete game of the season for the Pioneers, allowing four earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Game 2: Queens 9, Tusculum 5
A third-inning grand slam by Alloway tied the game at 5-5, but the Royals (34-14, 10-10 SAC) scored the go-ahead run in the fourth and added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh to finish the sweep. Strickler finished 2-for-4 with a home run and four runs batted in, while Ingoldsby was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored as the Royals picked up 12 hits in the victory.
Tusculum had 11 hits of its own in the second game, including 2-for-4 from Guerrero and Alloway and 2-for-2 from Brittney Franse. All nine Pioneers reached base safely via hit or walk, with West finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. Guerrero's second hit of the game, leading off the bottom of the seventh, was the 100th of her Tusculum career.
The Pioneers put two runners on in the first inning against Royals starter Ali Celiberti on a walk to West and a single by Guerrero, but the next two batters were retired to end the inning. Tusculum took the lead in the second as Alloway led off with a single and moved all the way to third on an error, then scored on an RBI double by Mahaffey.
Queens scored five runs in the top of the third against Tusculum starter Lizzy Galloway on RBI singles by Abby Lathan and Jordan Hunt, an error and a two-run single by Strickler. However, the Pioneers came back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning as West and Hester walked and Taylor Johnson singled to load the bases for Alloway, who hit the first pitch from Celiberti off the top of the fence in left and over for her seventh home run of the season and a 5-5 tie.
The Royals regained the lead in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Ingoldsby against Pioneer reliever Allison Pate, added another run in the sixth on an RBI double by Elaina Frantellizzi, and two more in the seventh on a two-run home run from Strickler, who had been homerless in 88 at-bats this season entering the day.
Pearson, who came on in relief in the fifth, nailed down her fourth save of the season despite allowing singles to Guerrero and Hester to open the seventh. She allowed four hits and no runs in three innings, striking out four and walking one. Evie Scott (1-1) earned the win with 1 2/3 innings of relief, allowing two hits and a walk but no runs, after Celiberti allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits while walking three in 2 1/3 innings.
Pate (9-11) was tagged with the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of relief, while striking out two. Galloway allowed five runs (two earned) on five hits in 2 2/3 innings, striking out one and walking one.
For Queens, Grace Wesoly went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Hunt finished 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Nine different players accounted for the nine runs scored in the game for the Royals.