JACKSON, Tenn. --- The Tusculum College softball team extended its winning streak to six consecutive games with a pair of victories in the Union University Softball Classic, defeating Maryville (Mo.) University 3-1 and beating the host Bulldogs 6-4 in game two.
At 7-1, the Pioneers are off to their best start since opening the 2007 season with an identical 7-1 record. Tusculum will conclude action at the Union Softball Classic on Saturday with games against Maryville at 12 noon Eastern and Union at 4 p.m. Eastern.
Tusculum 3, Maryville 1
Jenna Restivo hit a two-run home run to break a scoreless tie in the third inning, and Cayla Cecil carried a shutout into the seventh inning as the Pioneers defeated the Saints (0-2).
Cecil (3-0) scattered three hits through six innings, but surrendered a walk and two singles with two outs in the seventh before recovering to finish off her first complete game of the season. The Saints had the tying runs on base in the seventh, but an infield popup closed out the win for the Pioneers.
Emily Hester finished 2-for-4 for the Pioneers while Sammie West went 1-for-2 with a walk and three stolen bases in the victory. Tusculum finished with just five hits, but had at least one baserunner in five of the seven innings against Maryville.
The Pioneers advanced a runner to third base in each of the first two innings, but were unable to break through against Maryville starter Sheridan Sprague. In the third, Hester singled with two outs and scored as Restivo hit her third home run of the season to right field for a 2-0 Pioneer lead.
The Saints had their first threat in the bottom of the third, with two runners on base and one out, but Cecil escaped unscathed by retiring the next two hitters on fielder's choice ground balls in the infield.
Tusculum added to its lead in the fifth as Delaney Guerrero and West reached on back-to-back errors. After a stolen base by West and a line out, Hester delivered a bunt single to bring home Guerrero and give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead.
Maryville put its leadoff runner on base in the fifth on a single, but the Tusculum defense came through behind Cecil as shortstop Taylor Johnson and second baseman West turned a double play to short-circuit the Saints' threat.
The Saints got on the scoreboard with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, as Samantha Hausl drew a walk, moved to third on a pinch-single by Emily Bruin and scored on an infield single by Courtney Ferguson. Leadoff hitter Alyssa Callans represented the winning run for the Saints, but she was retired on a popup to Johnson at short to end the game.
Sprague (0-1) pitched all seven innings for the Saints, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out two and walking a pair. Ferguson and Hausl each went 1-for-2 with a walk for the Saints, who left six runners on base in the game.
Tusculum 6, Union 4
The Pioneers overcame a 4-2 deficit with three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, then survived a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Bulldogs (4-2).
Guerrero finished 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored, and Treslyn Reese delivered the tiebreaking single in the fifth inning after the Bulldogs had scored four runs in the fourth to erase a 2-0 Pioneer lead. Restivo went 2-for-3 with a game-tying two-run double in the fifth and Hester finished 2-for-3 as the Pioneers finished with 11 hits in the game.
It was the first time this season that the Pioneers had failed to hit a home run, with the streak of seven consecutive games with a homer tying the program record set from March 1 to 12, 2015.
Taylor Plemons (3-1) threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win for the Pioneers, escaping from a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh to lock down the victory. Plemons allowed four hits and walked two while striking out one.
After being held without a hit for the first two innings by Bulldog starter Gabby Morris, the Pioneers broke through in the third as Guerrero led off with a single and Morgan Mahaffey drew a two-out walk. Hester and Restivo then delivered back-to-back RBI singles to give Tusculum a 2-0 lead.
Tusculum starter Eliza Davis ran into trouble in the fourth as the Bulldogs loaded the bases with nobody out on two singles and a walk. Paige Robertson then tied the game with a two-run single, Hailey Cummings knocked in the go-ahead run with a groundout and LaDesha Nelson added an RBI single to chase Davis and give Union a 4-2 lead.
The Pioneers came right back in the fifth against Bulldog reliever Taylor Griffith as West led off with a single and Hester delivered a one-out single to put runners on the corners. Restivo then doubled home both runners to tie the game at 4-4, and Reese followed three batters later with a pinch-hit single to drive home Restivo and give the Pioneers a 5-4 lead.
After Plemons stranded two runners in the bottom of the fifth, the Pioneers tacked on an insurance run in the sixth against reliever Parker Davis. Mahaffey and Hester drew back-to-back walks with one out, and Restivo moved the runners with a groundout. Johnson then legged out an infield single to third base as Mahaffey scored to extend the Pioneers' lead to 6-4.
In the bottom of the seventh, Plemons retired the first two batters on ground balls before allowing a single, a walk and a single to load the bases for pinch-hitter Abby Swilley. However, Plemons was able to get Swilley to ground out to Hester at first base to end the game.
Mahaffey walked twice and scored a pair of runs for the Pioneers, while Morris finished 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored and Robertson went 2-for-4 for the Bulldogs. Griffith (0-1) allowed three hits and two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings for Union, which used four pitchers in the game.