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Rally, shutout give Pioneers sweep of Catawba

Brittney Franse celebrates with Morgan Mahaffey after drawing the game-ending walk (photo by Chuck Williams)
Brittney Franse celebrates with Morgan Mahaffey after drawing the game-ending walk (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win game one 6-5, then received a three-hitter from Lizzy Galloway in a 4-0 win in game two as the Pioneers swept Catawba in South Atlantic Conference softball action Friday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field.

The Pioneers (19-16, 4-6 SAC) will visit Lee for a non-conference doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 3 p.m.

Game 1: Tusculum 6, Catawba 5
The Pioneers saw the Indians overcome a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, but tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with a pair of runs. Catawba regained the lead with a run in the top of the seventh, only to see Tusculum score twice in the bottom of the seventh to capture the win on a bases-loaded walk to Brittney Franse.

Tusculum benefitted from four errors by Catawba, which led to four unearned runs. Two of the errors came during the Pioneers' decisive seventh-inning rally, which started on a leadoff single by Delaney Guerrero. Emily Hester was safe on a throwing error on a bunt attempt, and Taylor Johnson beat out a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. A would-be force out at the plate off the bat of Anna Alloway resulted in the tying run scoring as the throw went to the backstop, allowing Guerrero to score the equalizer. Each of the next two batters hit into force outs at home, but Franse walked on a 3-1 pitch to bring home Alloway with the game-winning run.

The Pioneers opened the scoring in the bottom of the first against Catawba starter Preston Ellenberg as Taylor Battle was hit by a pitch and was safe at second when obstruction was called on a steal attempt. Battle moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Sammie West, and scored on a single by Hester. Catawba got the run back in the top of the second against Tusculum starter Allison Pate as Monica Taylor singled and Jordan Dean walked, with both runners advancing on a bunt. Carlee Brawley then blooped a double to shallow center as Taylor scored to tie the game at 1-1.

Tusculum regained the lead in its half of the second as Franse singled with two outs, stole second and scored on a single by Battle. The lead held into the top of the fifth, when the Indians took the lead with two runs on a throwing error and an RBI single by Kaylee Cook. Catawba tacked on another run in the top of the sixth as Taylor Martin was safe on an infield single, stole second and scored on an infield single by Leah Huggins for a 4-2 Indians lead.

However, the Pioneers battled back with a pair of runs in their half of the sixth to tie the game at 4-4. Alloway and Emma Casey drew back-to-back walks with one out, and pinch-hitter Gabby Williams fought off five two-strike pitches before drawing a third straight walk from Ellenberg to load the bases. Reliever Brooke Walser came in and allowed a sacrifice fly to Franse that brought in Alloway to cut the deficit to 4-3, and Battle reached on an error as pinch-runner Courtney Gibson scored to tie the game.

Catawba regained the lead in the top of the seventh against Tusculum reliever Ashley Scozzari as Beth Ann Martin led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on a double by Taylor. The Indians finished with nine hits in the game, with Huggins and Taylor each going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

For Tusculum, Guerrero and Johnson each finished 2-for-4 and Alloway was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Pate worked 4 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) with two walks and two strikeouts. Taylor Plemons allowed a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief, with Scozzari (2-0) earning the win despite allowing a run on a hit and walk in the seventh.

Ellenberg threw 5 1/3 innings in game one for the Indians, allowing six hits and four runs (two earned) with three walks and two strikeouts. Walser (5-9) allowed two unearned runs on two hits with one walk in 1 1/3 innings of relief.

Game 2: Tusculum 4, Catawba 0

Galloway (2-2) struck out two and walked one and needed just 68 pitches to finish off her second complete game and first shutout in three starts this season. At the plate, Guerrero and Hester hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth for the Pioneers, marking the second straight year that Tusculum hit back-to-back homers against Catawba. Last April 22, Hester and Johnson went back-to-back in the sixth inning of a 9-8 Pioneer win in game two of their doubleheader with the Indians.

Galloway retired the first nine batters she faced before giving up a leadoff triple to Huggins in the fourth. Allie Baker was safe on a bunt as Huggins held at third, and Cook walked to load the bases with no outs. Galloway got Delane Smith to hit into a force out at home for the first out, then Taylor hit a comebacker that Galloway turned into a double play to escape the jam.

The Pioneers responded with the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth off Indians starter Madison Hunter (8-4) as Hester led off with a single, Johnson sacrificed pinch-runner Gibson to second and Casey delivered a two-out single up the middle. Inf the fifth, West walked with two outs and Guerrero followed with her second home run of the season into the wind in left-center field. Hester followed by drilling a 3-1 pitch over the fence in left for her fourth long ball of the season and a 4-0 Tusculum lead.

Catawba nearly spoiled the shutout in the seventh as Taylor doubled with one out and took third on a wild pitch, but Galloway struck out Dean and got Sierrah McCarthy on a bang-bang grounder to Johnson at third to end the game.

Hester was perfect at the plate in game two for the Pioneers, going 2-for-2 with a walk, as was West as she singled and walked twice in three trips, scoring a run. Casey finished 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Pioneers, who had seven hits in the game as a team.

Hunter allowed six hits and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings for Catawba, striking out five and walking three, while Walser struck out one and allowed a hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief.

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