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Pioneers split pair of pitcher's duels with Lees-McRae

Pioneers split pair of pitcher's duels with Lees-McRae

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum and Lees-McRae split a non-conference softball doubleheader Tuesday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field, with the visiting Bobcats winning the opener 3-1 and the Pioneers coming away with a 2-1 victory in game two.

Tusculum (5-3) will be home Wednesday for a doubleheader against North Greenville, with first pitch at 2 p.m. Lees-McRae is 3-9 following Tuesday's twinbill split.

Game 1: Lees-McRae 3, Tusculum 1
The Bobcats scored all three of their runs with two outs, breaking a scoreless tie with two runs in the fourth and adding another in the fifth. The Pioneers' lone run came in the bottom of the seventh inning on a groundout by Morgan Mahaffey which drove home pinch-runner Courtney Gibson.

Each team had a hit but did not score in the opening inning, but in the second the Bobcats put two runners on base on back-to-back two-out single from Chelsea Digregorio and Kate Robinson. However, Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons got out of trouble by retiring Mallory Myers on an infield popup. The Pioneers had two walks in their half of the second inning against Bobcat starter Kara Cunningham, but one runner was caught stealing and the other was stranded at third base with two outs.

In the fourth, Lees-McRae's Sarah Tucker worked a walk with one out, moved to second on a groundout and took third on a single by Robinson. After a walk to Myers loaded the bases, Alix Green and Caitlyn Ray came through with back-to-back RBI singles to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead.

The Bobcats added a run in the top of the fifth as Cunningham led off with a double and moved to third on a single by Noel Cassidy. Plemons was lifted in favor of Lizzy Galloway, who saw Tucker hit a line drive that was caught by the Pioneers' Brittney Franse at second base and turned into an unassisted double play as Cassidy was caught off the bag at second. However, Digregorio drew a walk and Robinson blooped a single to right to knock in Cunningham for a 3-0 lead.

Cunningham pitched out of trouble in the Pioneer half of the fifth as Taylor Battle tripled to right field with one out and pinch-hitter Brittany Fletcher drew a walk. After a stolen base put two runners in scoring position, Cunningham was able to get a pair of groundouts to keep the Bobcat lead at 3-0.

In the seventh, Tusculum kicked off a rally as Gabby Williams led off with a double and Battle followed with a single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. With one out, Mahaffey hit a grounder to first that was able to plate pinch-runner Gibson with the only run of the game for the Pioneers. Cunningham then set down the side on a comebacker to finish off her fifth complete game in six starts this season.

Robinson led the Bobcats by going 3-for-3 at the plate as Lees-McRae outhit Tusculum 10-4 in the game. Cunningham helped her own cause by going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, while Green was 2-for-3 with an RBI. For the Pioneers, Battle was 2-for-3 to account for half of the Pioneers' four hits off Cunningham (3-4), who walked four and struck out one. Williams went 1-for-2 and drew a walk in three plate appearances for Tusculum in game one.

Plemons (2-2) worked four-plus innings for the Pioneers, allowing eight hits and three earned runs, with two strikeouts and three walks. Galloway tossed the final three innings of relief and allowed two hits and a walk but no runs of her own.

Game 2: Tusculum 2, Lees-McRae 1
Allison Pate (3-1) allowed three hits and no earned runs and outdueled Lees-McRae starter Cassidy Largen as the Pioneers salvaged the split of the doubleheader with the Bobcats. Pate struck out three and walked two while retiring the final nine batters in order. Largen (0-5) was a hard-luck loser as she gave up two earned runs on three hits in six innings, with three strikeouts and three walks

Tusculum had the first baserunner of the game in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out double by Anna Alloway, while Lees-McRae's first runner came in the second on a bunt single by Tucker. The Bobcats loaded the bases in the second on the single along with walks to Digregorio and Myers, but Pate struck out Green with the sacks jammed to keep the game scoreless.

In the third, Mahaffey led off with a walk and went all the way around to third on a bunt single by Battle. After Battle stole second, Largen uncorked a wild pitch to bring home Mahaffey and give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead. Delaney Guerrero then followed with a sacrifice fly to score Battle, who had moved up on the wild pitch, and extend the Tusculum advantage to 2-0.

Lees-McRae scored its only run in the fourth as Cassidy led off by reaching on an error, moved to second on a bunt, took third on a groundout and scored on a single by Robinson which cut the Tusculum lead to 2-1. In the fifth, Green reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and took second on an error, then moved to third on a fly out. However, Green was unable to advance on pinch-hitter Amber Corwin's line out to Mahaffey in shallow center, and Pate then retired Cunningham on a groundout to keep the score at 2-1.

Pate set down the Bobcats in order in the sixth, then ended the game with a flourish in the seventh by recording two of her three strikeouts in the game, including the final out on a called third strike to pinch-hitter Haven Birchfield.

Alloway went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles in game two for the Pioneers, while Battle's bunt single in the third was the only other hit in the game for Tusculum off Largen. Emma Casey reached base safely twice in game two for Tusculum on a pair of walks.

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