ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. --- The Tusculum College softball team split a non-conference doubleheader at Flagler College on Thursday, falling 8-4 in the opener before edging the Saints 5-4 in game two.
The Pioneers (12-12) will play Mount Olive in a neutral-site doubleheader on Friday at 3 p.m. at Flagler Field. The Saints are 17-12 as they travel to Erskine for a doubleheader with the Flying Fleet on Saturday.
Game 1: Flagler 8, Tusculum 4
Mackenzie Conley hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to cap a rally from a 4-0 deficit for the Saints, who tied the game with two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Tusculum took a 3-0 lead in the third on a bases-loaded double from Taylor Johnson, and added a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Emily Hester. However, a two-run home run from Flagler's Morgan Murphy in the fifth cut the margin to 4-2, and the Saints tied it in the sixth on an error and an RBI single by Natalie Murphy.
In the seventh, the Saints loaded the bases on a walk and back-to-back errors, setting up Conley's sixth home run of the season to left-center field to end the game. Conley finished 2-for-4 for the Saints while Natalie Murphy was 2-for-3 with a run scored in the victory.
Tusculum had four hits in game one off Flagler starter Ally Marcano (13-3), who struck out eight and walked four while allowing one earned run. Sammie West walked twice and scored a run for the Pioneers while Hester had two walks and a run scored to go along with her RBI single. Michelle Miller was twice hit by pitch and scored a run as well for the Pioneers.
Taylor Plemons (6-6) worked all 6 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, giving up four earned runs and seven hits with two strikeouts and three walks.
Game 2: Tusculum 5, Flagler 4
West went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs scored in game two for the Pioneers, who built a 3-0 lead and held off a pair of Saints rallies to earn the split of the doubleheader.
Tusculum took a 1-0 lead in the first against Flagler starter Katelynn Smith as West led off with a double, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Miller and scored on a two-out error. Flagler threatened in the second as it loaded the bases on an error, a walk and a hit batter, but Pioneer starter Eliza Davis ended the inning with a strikeout.
The Pioneers tacked on two runs in the third as West singled and moved to second when Miller reached on an error. After a walk to Hester loaded the bases, West scored on an error on a grounder by Jenna Restivo to give the Pioneers a 2-0 lead. Pinch-hitter Robin Stoner added a run on a sacrifice fly which brought home Miller extend the Tusculum lead to 3-0.
Flagler cut the deficit to 3-2 in the bottom of the third on a two-run double by Natalie Murphy, but the Pioneers got the runs back in the top of the fourth as Morgan Mahaffey was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice by Taylor Battle and scored on a double by West for a 4-2 Tusculum lead. After a strikeout, Hester delivered an RBI single that brought in West and gave the Pioneers a 5-2 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Saints scored two runs on an RBI triple by Natalie Murphy and an RBI single by Maddy Murphy, but Pioneer reliever Cayla Cecil induced a popup with runners at second and third to end the inning. Flagler had a runner at third with two outs in the sixth, but failed to bring home the tying run. Cecil then retired the side in order in the seventh for the save.
Morgan Ward had a pinch-hit double for the Pioneers, who finished with six hits in the game. Mahaffey was hit by two pitches in the nightcap, scoring a run. Flagler finished with four hits in game two, led by Maddy Murphy who was 2-for-4 with three runs batted in. Alli-Ann Bigale had the other hit for the Saints and scored a run in the loss.
Davis (2-1) went 4 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing three earned runs and four hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Cecil pitched the final 2 2/3 innings without yielding a hit, striking out one and walking two to earn her first save of the season.
Smith (3-6) pitched four innings for the Saints, giving up four hits and two earned runs while striking out three and walking two. Callie Reed pitched the final three innings for Flagler, allowing two hits and striking out four while issuing a pair of walks.