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Pioneer starters shut down Converse in doubleheader sweep

Pioneer starters shut down Converse in doubleheader sweep

DUNCAN, S.C. --- Tusculum swept Converse in a non-conference softball doubleheader Thursday afternoon at Tyger River Park, winning the opener 5-0 behind a one-hitter from Taylor Plemons, and capturing game two by an 8-3 score as Allison Pate threw five no-hit innings and Delaney Guerrero capped a 6-for-7 day at the plate by homering and driving in three runs.

The Pioneers (4-0) will be back on the road Sunday at Limestone for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Converse, which was outhit 22-6 in the doubleheader, fell to 0-8 with the losses.

Game 1: Tusculum 5, Converse 0
Plemons (2-0) allowed just a fourth-inning single to Jena Massing in pitching her third career shutout. Plemons struck out five and walked three and received support from an 11-hit offensive attack, led by three hits each from Guerrero and Taylor Battle.

Tusculum scored single runs in each of the first three innings off Converse starter Marissa Steadman (0-3). In the first, Sammie West led off with a walk, stole second and scored when Guerrero's bunt was misplayed for an arror. In the second, Brittney Franse singled with one out, stole second and scored on a single by Guerrero. The Pioneers added another run in the third as Emma Casey singled with one out, Anna Alloway walked and Battle delivered a single to drive home pinch-runner Emily White for a 3-0 lead.

The Pioneers scored two more runs in the sixth as Morgan Mahaffey led off with a single, stole second and took third on a single by Guerrero. After Guerrero stole second, Emily Hester singled to drive home both runners and give the Pioneers a 5-0 lead. Meanwhile, Plemons retired 12 of the final 13 Valkyries batters to close out her second complete game in as many starts this season.

Guerrero finished 3-for-3 with a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base for the Pioneers, while Battle was 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Seven of the Pioneers' nine starters had at least one hit, while all nine batters reached base safely by hit or walk.

Steadman worked five-plus innings for Converse in game one, allowing eight hits and four runs (three earned) with one strikeout and four walks. Hannah Boring threw the final two innings in relief for the Valkyries, giving up three hits and one run. Massing led Converse at the plate by reaching base safely twice on a hit and a walk.

Game 2: Tusculum 8, Converse 3
Pate (2-0) started game two and held the Valkyries to just a walk in four innings, before giving way to Lizzy Galloway in the fifth. Converse scored a run in the sixth and two in the seventh before Pate returned to retire the side and cap off an eight-strikeout outing.

At the plate, Guerrero and Alloway hit home runs as the Pioneers finished with 11 hits for the second straight game. Guerrero finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three runs batted in for the Pioneers, while Alloway was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and West scored three runs out of the leadoff spot.

Tusculum struck for two runs in the first inning off Converse started Jianna Pellegrino (0-1) as West reached second on an error and scored on a single by Guerrero for a quick 1-0 lead. Hester reached on an infield single and took second when Guerrero was forced out at third. After a single by Casey loaded the bases, Alloway hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Hester for a 2-0 Tusculum advantage.

Pate struck out the side in the first inning and retired the first nine Valkyries before Steadman led off the fourth inning with a walk. Meanwhile, Alloway clubbed her second home run of the season to lead off the fourth inning and give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead.

Tusculum tacked on two more runs in the fifth as West and Guerrero led off with back-to-back bunt singles. Hester brought home West with a sacrifice fly, and Guerrero scored on a wild pitch as the Pioneers extended their lead to 5-0. Converse scored its only run of the game in the sixth as Moriah Gomez led off with a walk, Steadman reached on an error and Meredith Quarles delivered a sacrifice fly to cut the Pioneer lead to 5-1.

In the seventh, Tusculum added three more runs as West led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Guerrero's first home run of the season. Later in the inning, pinch-hitter Gabby Williams doubled with two outs and scored on an an error as the Pioneers went ahead 8-1. Converse scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run double by Pellegrino, but Pate returned to the circle with runners at second and third and nobody out and retired the side on a groundout and two strikeouts.

Mackenzie Wenz went 2-for-3 for the Valkyries in game two, including an infield single with two outs in the fifth that gave Converse its first hit of the game. Pellegrino worked all seven innings, allowing five earned runs and walking one with no strikeouts.

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