MARS HILL, N.C. --- Mars Hill University slugged seven home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Tusculum University in South Atlantic Conference softball on Wednesday at Ponder Field. The Lions (20-9, 4-2 SAC) rallied for a 10-8 win in game one, followed by a 12-4 victory in five innings in game two.
The Pioneers (15-11, 3-5 SAC) will host 21st-ranked Wingate on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a SAC doubleheader at Red Edmonds Field.
Game 1: Mars Hill 10, Tusculum 8
Tusculum outhit Mars Hill 13-10 in game one and led 5-0 before the Lions came to bat, but an eight-run third inning gave Mars Hill the lead for good. The Lions hit three home runs in the game and reliever Christiana Marasa threw 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory.
Emily Hester was 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored for the Pioneers, while Taylor Battle, Emma Casey and Brittney Franse each had two hits and drove in a run. For the Lions, Jordan Harris was 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and two RBIs in the victory.
The Pioneers jumped all over Lion starter Casey Stanek for five runs in the top of the first inning. With one out, Battle singled, stole second and reached third on an infield single by Hester. Alexis Grampp then reached on an infield hit as Battle scored for a 1-0 Pioneer lead. Another single by Anna Alloway loaded the bases for Taylor Johnson, who delivered a two-run double which extended the Tusculum lead to 3-0. Casey followed with the Pioneers' fifth hit in a row, an RBI single which knocked in Alloway and pushed Tusculum ahead 4-0. After a strikeout, Franse came through with a two-out RBI single as Johnson scored for a 5-0 Pioneer lead and sent Stanek from the circle in favor of Marasa.
Mars Hill got two runs back in the bottom of the second inning on back-to-back home runs by Jordan Harris and Krista Romine off Tusculum starter Ivee Richesin. The Pioneers responded with a run in their half of the third as Franse singled with two outs, took second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Sammie West for a 6-2 Tusculum lead.
The Lions roared back with eight runs in their half of the third. Hannah Smith delivered a two-run single to cut the Tusculum lead to 6-4 and send Richesin to the bench in favor of Ashley Scozzari. An RBI double by Harris and a run-scoring single from Ashley Evans tied the game at 6-6, and Taylor Nilsson hit a sacrifice fly to put Mars Hill on top 7-6. Pinch-hitter Addison Harris then delivered a three-run home run to cap the scoring and give the Lions a 10-6 advantage.
Tusculum loaded the bases in the top of the fourth on two walks and an error, but scored just one run in the inning as pinch-runner Emily White scored on a double play. The Pioneers added another run in the fifth as Battle drove home Franse with a two-out double, but Marasa shut down Tusculum over the final two innings for the victory.
Marasa (5-2) worked 6 1/3 innings in relief of Stanek for Mars Hill, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) with three walks and a strikeout. Stanek was charged with five earned runs on seven hits while retiring just two of the nine batters she faced.
Scozzari (1-1) allowed four runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief for the Pioneers, with one walk and one strikeout. Richesin gave up six earned runs on five hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings before being lifted during the eight-run third.
Game 2: Mars Hill 12, Tusculum 4 (5 innings)
Addison Harris' second home run of the game was a three-run walkoff shot in the bottom of the fifth as the Lions scored eight unanswered runs after the Pioneers erased an early 4-0 deficit. Maggie Langheim and Evans also homered for Mars Hill, which had a 9-5 edge in hits over Tusculum in the game.
Stanek (12-3), who relieved in the second inning after Ashley Collins walked three and hit another among the eight batters she faced, pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory. Addison Harris finished 2-for-2 with three runs scored and four RBIs, while Stanek was 2-for-2 with a double after Collins had a two-run single in the first inning.
Mars Hill jumped to a 4-0 lead against Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons as Langheim hit a two-run home run and Collins delivered a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded for a 4-0 lead. Allison Pate came on in relief after Collins' hit and retired the side with two runners on base.
Tusculum bounced back with four runs in the top of the second as Alloway led off with a walk, Brown was hit by a pitch and Grampp walked to load the bases with nobody out. After a popup, Casey walked with the bases loaded to cut the lead to 4-1 and send Collins from the circle in favor of Stanek. An error allowed two runs to score and bring the Pioneers within 4-3. A single by West re-loaded the bases for Battle, who singled home Casey to tie the game at 4-4.
The tie was unbroken by Addison Harris in the bottom of the third as she followed a two-out walk to Langheim with a home run to give the Lions a 6-4 lead. The margin expanded to 7-4 in the third on a throwing error, and a two-run homer by Evans extended the Mars Hill lead to 9-4 in the fourth. Harris then connected for the second time in the game and third time on the afternoon in the fifth to close out the five-inning win.
Brown was 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored for the Pioneers, while Alloway was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Pate (5-4) worked 3 2/3 innings of relief, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out one.