GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University softball team swept the conclusion of a non-conference doubleheader with Converse College on Thursday at Red Edmonds Field, winning 3-1 in the finish of the opener and shutting out the Valkyries 8-0 in five innings in game two.
The Pioneers (5-1) will host Limestone on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Red Edmonds Field.
Game 1: Tusculum 3, Converse 1
Held to one hit through five innings, the Pioneers cobbled together three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to grab the victory. Ivee Richesin (1-1) allowed three hits and one unearned run and struck out four to earn the win.
Converse took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth on an RBI groundout by Allison Plafcan, and starting pitcher Marissa Martin carried the lead into the bottom of the frame.
Taylor Battle led off with a bunt single and stole second, and Alexis Grampp reached on a strikeout/wild pitch to put runners at the corners. After Grampp stole second, Emily Hester laid a bunt down the third-base line and Battle slid across safely to tie the game at 1-1.
Tusculum then took a 2-1 lead as pinch-runner Emily White stole second while Grampp stole home, and Taylor Johnson followed with a triple to deep right to bring home White with the insurance run. Richesin then retired the side in order in the seventh to nail down the win.
The game began on Sunday and three innings were completed with both teams able to manage just one hit - a Johnson double for Tusculum in the bottom of the second and a single by Converse's Jenna Baro in the top of the third.
Martin (0-2) retired the first four batters she faced before allowing a double to Johnson with one out in the third. With two outs, Emma Casey and Morgan Mahaffey worked back-to-back walks to load the bases, but Martin escaped the jam as Johnson was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on a wild pitch.
Richesin set down the first seven batters before allowing a one-out single by Baro in the third. An error by the Pioneers put runners at first and second with one out, but Richesin retired the next two batters on ground balls.
With the leadoff batter at the plate for Converse in the top of the fourth, the coaches and umpires huddled and agreed to halt the game for the safety of the players. The game resumed Thursday afternoon under cloudy skies, but with no rain.
Johnson accounted for two of the Pioneers' three hits with a double and triple. Tusculum stole four bases in the game, including two by Grampp.
Martin worked six innings for Converse, allowing three earned runs on three hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
Game 2: Tusculum 8, Converse 0 (5 innings)
Allison Pate allowed just a first-inning single and struck out three in her third career shutout, and the Pioneers took control early with three runs in both the first and third innings off the Valkyries (1-7).
Pate (2-0) struck out three and walked two, and was aided by her defense on the only hit of the game. Converse's Destiny Heard blooped a single to right with two outs in the first but Plafcan was thrown out at the plate, right fielder Anna Alloway to second baseman Brittney Franse to catcher Johnson.
Alloway went 2-for-2 with three runs batted in and Grampp finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored for the Pioneers, who added single runs in the fourth and fifth to invoke the eight-run rule.
Tusculum came out with three runs in the bottom of the first against Converse starter Savannah Rodgers (1-3). With one out, Caitlyn Brinkley singled and Hester brought her home with a two-out double high off the fence in left. Grampp then followed with an RBI double and Alloway delivered a run-scoring single for a 3-0 Pioneer lead.
In the third, Johnson and Hester drew back-to-back walks with one out, which led to Rodgers being lifted in favor of Hailey Spitler. Grampp singled up the middle to drive in Johnson and give the Pioneers a 4-0 lead, and Alloway doubled down the line in left as Grampp and pinch-runner Courtney Gibson crossed the plate.
Tusculum tacked on a run in the fourth as Brittany Fletcher and Brinkley were hit by pitches, and Johnson singled in the hole off the glove of Converse's shortstop as Fletcher scored to push the Pioneer lead to 7-0.
In the fifth, Tusculum needed just three pitches to bring in the winning run against new pitcher Courtney Walls. White led off with a single, and Grayson Brown doubled to left as White came home with the game-ending run.
Four of Tusculum's nine hits went for extra bases, and the Pioneers did not strike out against any of the Valkyries' three pitchers. Johnson and Hester each went 1-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored for the Pioneers in game two.
Rodgers allowed four hits and five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings for Converse, walking two, and Spitler surrendered three hits and two runs in 1 2/3 innings.