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Pioneers use long ball to earn doubleheader split with Lees-McRae

Pioneers use long ball to earn doubleheader split with Lees-McRae

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum College and Lees-McRae College split a non-conference softball doubleheader at Red Edmonds Field on Friday evening. The Bobcats (5-9) won the opener by a score of 10-8, while the Pioneers (9-5) came back to win game two 11-6.

Tusculum will be back home on Tuesday to host King University in a non-conference doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.

Game 1: Lees-McRae 10, Tusculum 8
The Pioneers rallied from a 10-2 deficit with six runs in the bottom of the sixth, including a grand slam from Sammie West, and had the tying run at the plate in the seventh before the Bobcats could finally close out the win.

Lees-McRae finished with 14 hits in the game, including two apiece from winning pitcher Kara Cunningham, Valerie Hickey, Noel Cassidy, Caitlyn Ray and Sarah Stallings. Cunningham and Cassidy each drove in a pair of runs while Hickey and Stallings scored two runs apiece.

Jenna Restivo went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in and Rachel Wisner was 2-for-2 off the bench for the Pioneers, who also received a single and two walks from Emily Hester in the opener. The Bobcats took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first against Pioneer starter Cayla Cecil on an RBI double by Cassidy and an RBI single by Ray.

Cunningham kept the Pioneers off the board until the third, when Tusculum loaded the bases on a single by Delaney Guerrero, a walk to Morgan Mahaffey and a two-out walk to Hester. Restivo then lined an 0-2 pitch back up the middle for a two-run single, driving home Guerrero and Mahaffey to tie the score at 2-2.

Lees-McRae came back with five runs in the top of the fourth on an RBI single from Karly McRary, an infield single from pinch-hitter Emily Merriam, a throwing error on a steal attempt, an RBI infield single from Cunningham and a single from Cassidy. Tusculum avoided further damage as third baseman Guerrero and first baseman Hester teamed up for an inning-ending double play.

The Bobcats built their lead to 10-2 with three more runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Cunningham and Hickey and an RBI double by Sarah Tucker. Down to their final three outs, the Pioneers stormed back in their half of the sixth as a walk to Hester and a single from Restivo was followed by a pinch-single from Wisner to cut the margin to 10-3. A fielder's choice grounder loaded the bases for Robin Stoner, who worked a walk to drive home pinch-runner Emily White and pull the Pioneers within 10-4.

With two outs and the bases still loaded, West slammed a 3-1 pitch over the fence in left for her second home run of the season, cutting the Lees-McRae lead to 10-8. Taylor Battle followed with a triple to the gap to bring the tying run to the plate, but a groundout allowed the Bobcats to escape with a two-run lead.

Wisner doubled with one out in the seventh to give the Pioneers life, but reliever Gabrielle Moyer retired the next two batters on fly balls to the outfield to end the game.

Cunningham (3-3) worked six innings for the Bobcats, allowed seven hits and eight earned runs. She struck out five and walked four while throwing 128 pitches over her six innings. Moyer allowed a hit in the seventh but recorded her first save of the year.

Cecil (4-2) gave up five hits and four earned runs in three-plus innings for the Pioneers, with one walk and no strikeouts. Eliza Davis threw the final four innings for Tusculum, with four strikeouts and no walks.

Game 2: Tusculum 11, Lees-McRae 6
Stoner, Wisner and Taylor Johnson all hit home runs and Pioneer batters drew eight walks in the first two innings as Tusculum built an 8-1 lead. Stoner hit a three-run homer in the first, Wisner hit a solo shot in the fourth and Johnson slammed a two-run blast later in the fourth as the Pioneers increased their SAC-leading home run total to 19 in 14 games.

Taylor Plemons (4-3) worked in and out of trouble to pick up the victory for the Pioneers, striking out four and walking two in her fourth complete game of the season. Wisner finished 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored while Stoner was 2-for-2 with a walk and four runs batted in for the Pioneers.

Tusculum jumped to a quick 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first as West walked, stole second and took third on a groundout. Hester was safe on a fielding error as West crossed the plate with the game's first run, then Wisner walked with two outs to bring up Stoner, who lined a 1-0 pitch over the left field fence for her fifth home run of the season and a 4-0 Pioneer lead. After a walk to Johnson, Bailey Culler came within a foot of hitting one over the fence in right-center, settling for a triple as Johnson scored for a 5-0 lead.

The Bobcats got a run back in the second on a two-out error, but the Pioneers worked out six walks in the bottom of the second, including four in a row from Lees-McRae starter Charlie Dutton before she departed in favor of Moyer. All three runs in the inning scored on bases-loaded walks, which were delivered to Stoner, Johnson and Culler.

Ray doubled home a run in the fourth to cut the Pioneer lead to 8-2, but with runners on the corners and one out, a line drive to Guerrero at third was converted into a double play as her throw across the infield nabbed the Bobcat runner at first to end the inning.

Lees-McRae added three more runs in the fourth on an RBI triple by Stallings, an RBI single by Cunningham and an RBI double by Cassidy to pull within 8-5, but Wisner hit her second home run of the season to left-center with one out and Johnson followed two batters later with a blast to deep center for her second of the year and an 11-5 Tusculum lead.

The Bobcats got a run back in the top of the fifth on a one-out home run by Merriam, but that would be the final hit of the game for Lees-McRae as Plemons retired eight of the final nine batters to close out the game.

Lees-McRae finished with 12 hits in game two, including a 3-for-4 effort from Ray, while Cunningham and Merriam each went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Dutton (0-4) allowed eight walks and eight runs (four earned) in 1 2/3 innings for the Bobcats, with Moyer yielding three runs on four hits over the final 4 1/3 innings.

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