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Pioneers split season opener at Southern Wesleyan

Pioneers split season opener at Southern Wesleyan
CENTRAL, S.C. --- The Tusculum University softball team opened its 2019 season Tuesday afternoon with a split of a non-conference doubleheader at Southern Wesleyan University. The Warriors (1-3) won the opener 3-2 with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, but the Pioneers came back with a 12-4 win in the nightcap.
 
Tusculum (1-1) will play its home opener on Saturday, Feb. 9 at noon against Mount Olive.
 
Game 1: Southern Wesleyan 3, Tusculum 2 (8 innings)
Taylor Le drove in the tying run with a triple in the bottom of the eighth, then scored the winning run on a groundout by Emma Collins as the Warriors scored two runs to take the victory. 
 
Tusculum's Alexis Grampp knocked in both runs in her Pioneer debut, driving in Taylor Battle with a groundout in the third and Sammie West on a squeeze bunt in the top of the eighth. However, the Pioneers were able to manage just two hits in the game, coming on a single by Anna Alloway in the second and a double by Taylor Johnson in the fourth.
 
Pioneer starter Allison Pate retired the first 11 batters she faced before allowing a two-out double to Lydia Clanton in the fourth. Clanton drove in the Warriors' first run in the bottom of the sixth on another double to tie the game at 1-1.
 
Tusculum opened the scoring in the third off SWU starter Ashton Martin as Battle reached on an error to lead off the inning and West was hit by a pitch. A sacrifice by Brittney Franse moved the runners to second and third, and Grampp brought home Battle with a grounder to first for a 1-0 Tusculum lead.
 
Southern Wesleyan threatened in the fourth after Clanton's double, as Martin reached on an error on a bad-hop grounder to put runners at the corners. However, Pate retired Becca White on a ground ball to end the inning and keep Tusculum ahead 1-0.
 
The Warriors threatened again in the fifth as Lexi Thompson led off with a single and moved to second on a one-out groundout. But, Pate got Le on a fly ball to Battle in left to preserve the Pioneers' 1-0 advantage.
 
Still trailing 1-0 in the sixth, the Warriors began the game-tying rally on a one-out single by Delaney Byers. A stolen base put Byers in scoring position, and Clanton knotted the game at 1-1 with her second double of the game. The hit chased Pate from the circle in favor of Ivee Richesin, who ended the threat with a ground out and a strike out.
 
The Pioneers tried to rally in the seventh as Battle reached second on a two-out error, but Collins retired the side with a strikeout. Richesin set down the Warriors in order in the last of the seventh to send the Pioneers' season opener to extra innings.
 
West was placed on second to start the eighth inning and stole third with one out. Grampp then laid down a bunt back to pitcher Collins as West slid home with the go-ahead run. Down a run, Southern Wesleyan quickly tied the game as Le tripled to the gap in left-center to bring home Kassidy Hamrick. Collins then hit a grounder to third, and Le took off on the throw to first and slid around the tag at the plate to give the Warriors the win.
 
Pate worked 5 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Richesin (0-1) tossed the final two innings, giving up an earned run on one hit with two strikeouts and no walks.
 
For Southern Wesleyan, Martin allowed an unearned run on two hits in four innings of work with a strikeout and a walk. Collins (1-0) threw the final four innings for the Warriors and struck out six with one walk and no earned runs.
 
Game 2: Tusculum 12, Southern Wesleyan 4
Grampp and Emily Hester each went 3-for-5 with a home run and two runs batted in for the Pioneers, who piled up 15 hits and used a seven-run fifth inning to take the lead for good. Battle also went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and three stolen bases, and West was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. 
 
Combined, the first four batters in the Pioneer lineup (Battle, West, Grampp and Hester) went 10-for-19 with four extra-base hits, nine runs scored and eight RBIs in game two.
 
Tusculum grabbed a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Southern Wesleyan starter Delanie Laudenbacher (0-2) as Battle led off with a single, stole second and took third on a single by West. The Pioneers then executed a double steal as West took second while Battle crossed home plate for a 1-0 Tusculum lead. Hester and Johnson then followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to extend the Pioneer lead to 3-0.
 
Southern Wesleyan came right back as Collins and Byers led off with singles, and Clanton followed with a three-run home run off Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons to tie the game at 3-3. Plemons (1-0) would allow just two more hits in six innings of work, but she issued five walks to go along with five strikeouts.
 
The Warriors went ahead 4-3 in the second on an RBI single by Makaila Irby, and carried the lead into the fifth where the Pioneers broke loose for seven runs on seven hits. Battle led off with a single and West followed with a bunt single. Grampp then singled home Battle to tie the game at 4-4, and a single by Hester loaded the bases which led to Collins coming on in relief of Laudenbacher for the Warriors.
 
A passed ball allowed West to score for a 5-4 Tusculum lead, and Johnson walked to reload the bases for Emma Casey, who singled to right to score Grampp and give Tusculum a 6-4 advantage. A two-run single by Alloway made it 8-4 and resulted in Laudenbacher returning to the circle for Southern Wesleyan.
 
After a fielder's choice grounder and a fly out left runners at first and second with two outs, Battle delivered a triple to drive home Alloway and Franse and push the Tusculum lead to 10-4. In the bottom of the inning, Plemons loaded the bases on walks but retired pinch-hitter Jessica Burks to avoid any damage.
 
Hester tacked on a run in the top of the sixth with a leadoff solo home run, and Grampp hit a two-out blast in the seventh to set the final score. Ashley Scozzari pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Pioneers with one strikeout.
 
Laudenbacher was credited with pitching all seven innings for the Warriors, allowing 13 hits and nine runs (eight earned) with a strikeout and two walks. Collins, who was brilliant in relief in the opener, was tagged for three earned runs on two hits and a walk without retiring a batter.
 
Clanton led the Warriors at the plate in game two, going 2-for-3 with the three-run home run and a walk. The Warriors had six hits as a team and left eight runners on base, while Tusculum stranded seven.

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