HARROGATE, Tenn. --- Lincoln Memorial collected 28 hits in a South Atlantic Conference softball doubleheader sweep of Tusculum on Wednesday afternoon, winning by scores of 6-1 and 9-7.
The Pioneers (22-23, 6-12 SAC) will try to lock down a SAC Championship tournament berth on Saturday as Queens visits Red Edmonds Field for the final league doubleheader of the season, beginning at 1 p.m.
Game 1: Lincoln Memorial 6, Tusculum 1
Brianna Taylor carried a shutout into the seventh inning before Emma Casey hit a leadoff home run. Taylor (12-3) finished with a six-hitter and the Railsplitter offense banged out 13 hits in the game, including 3-for-3 performances from Jacie Pittman and Allie Jones.
The Railsplitters opened the scoring in the bottom of the first against Pioneer starter Taylor Plemons, as Ty-Kella Goins led off with an infield single, went to third on a single by Pittman and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jones.
Tusculum mounted a rally in the third as Morgan Mahaffey walked with one out and Taylor Battle followed with a bunt single. After a sacrifice moved the runners into scoring position, Taylor retired the side on a fly ball to center field to keep the LMU lead at 1-0. In the bottom half of the inning, back-to-back doubles from Pittman and Jones with one out extended the Railsplitter lead to 2-0.
In the fifth, Brittney Franse singled with one out and Battle was safe on a fielder's choice with two outs, but Taylor recorded her only strikeout of the game with two on to end the threat. Lincoln Memorial loaded the bases against Plemons in the bottom of the fifth on a walk to Pittman and singles from Jones and Emma Webb, but a line drive off the bat of Kelsie Hocutt was caught at first base by the Pioneers' Emily Hester and turned into an unassisted double play to help Tusculum escape unscathed.
Tusculum looked to get back in the game in the top of the sixth as Taylor Johnson doubled with one out, but a line out and an infield popup ended the inning. Lincoln Memorial broke the game open in its half of the sixth on a two-run pinch-hit double by Teddi Collins and back-to-back RBI singles by Jones and Webb.
Casey led off the seventh by hitting a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left for her second home run of the season, and Franse followed with a single, but two groundouts and a fly out allowed Taylor to finish off the victory.
Franse finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate for the Pioneers, who left seven runners on base. Plemons (7-8) allowed all 13 hits and two earned runs, striking out four and walking one while throwing 98 pitches in 5 2/3 innings before Allison Pate came on in the sixth to record the final out.
Pittman was 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored for the Railsplitters, while Jones was 3-for-3 with a double and three runs batted in. Webb was 2-for-4 with a double and Grace Cochran finished 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Game 2: Lincoln Memorial 9, Tusculum 7
The Railsplitters (23-21, 6-12 SAC) scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to take the lead for good against the Pioneers, who tried to rally with two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh but came up short.
Lincoln Memorial pounded out 15 hits in the game, led by a 4-for-4 performance from leadoff batter Goins and a 3-for-3 effort by Audrey Petoskey. Jones and Webb each went 2-for-4 for Lincoln Memorial, as each of the first batters in the lineup had at least one hit.
Battle led the Pioneers at the plate by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Delaney Guerrero and Hester each knocked in a pair of runs and Johnson connected for a solo home run. The Pioneers had 11 hits off LMU starter Justice Smith (13-9), who struck out five and walked two but battled through 156 pitches to the complete-game win.
Tusculum opened the scoring in the top of the first as Battle led off with a bunt single, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Hester. The Pioneers extended the lead to 2-0 in the third as Battle again led off with a single, moved to third on a single by Anna Alloway and scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Hester.
Pioneer starter Lizzy Galloway carried the 2-0 lead into the bottom of the third inning, but the Railsplitters tied it as Goins led off with a single, and Jones and Webb connected for back-to-back doubles with one out. Tusculum regained the lead in the top of the fourth as Casey and Sammie West led off with singles, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Franse. Mahaffey brought home pinch-runner Courtney Gibson with the go-ahead run on a groundout, and Battle followed with her third hit of the game to bring home West for a 4-2 Tusculum lead.
Lincoln Memorial got a run back in the bottom of the fourth against Pate, who came on in relief of Galloway in the third, as Petoskey led off with a double and scored on a single by Collins. The Railsplitters put two on with one out, but Pate got Pittman to hit into a double play to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Railsplitters strung together five runs on five hits to take an 8-4 lead. Grace Cochran had a two-run double to give the Railsplitters the lead, and with two outs Goins delivered a two-run single and Pittman connected for an RBI single to cap the rally. The Pioneers came right back in the top of the sixth as Franse walked with one out, followed by a single by Mahaffey. After a groundout moved the runners, Guerrero came through with a two-run single to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Lincoln Memorial tacked on an insurance run off Plemons in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Petoskey, and Johnson's third home run of the season leading off the seventh capped the scoring.
Alloway went 2-for-4 at the plate in game two for the Pioneers, while Casey was 1-for-3 with a walk. All nine starters for the Pioneers in game two reached base safely by hit or walk.
Galloway worked 2 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing two earned runs on six hits with one strikeout. Pate (9-10) allowed six earned runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief, striking out two and walking one, while Plemons gave up a run on a hit and a walk with one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings.