WISE, Va. --- The Tusculum University softball team parts the season's doubleheader against UVa-Wise as eight homeruns were hit out of the confines of Cavalier Field. The Pioneers took the first game 8-5, while the home Cavaliers run-ruled Tusculum 9-1 in five innings.
The Pioneers (14-4) return to Red Edmonds Field on Saturday (March 7) for a 1 p.m. showdown with archrival Carson-Newman.
Game 1: Tusculum 8, UVa-Wise 5
The Pioneers used career outings by Ivee Richesin and Bree Whitson to escape the Cavaliers in game one. The pitcher struck out a personal-best nine batters, while the designated player recorded her first collegiate homerun. Additionally, Grayson Brown launched her second homer of the season, while Brittney Franse went 3-for-3 at the plate.
What started out as a pitchers' duel, after both teams struck out the side to begin the game, became a late-inning slugfest. Combined between the conference foes, five homeruns were hit, with all of the Cavaliers' run coming by way of the long-ball.
The Cavaliers broke through the scoreless tie in the third inning on a Kaylee Jones two-run shot to right center.
Tusculum responded with three runs in the fourth inning, all unearned due to miscues by the home team. Taylor Johnson started the frame with a single and Brown reached on a throwing error. Caitlyn Brinkley was tapped to pinch run for Brown. The teammates advanced two bags on a passed ball, scoring Johnson. Whitson drew a walk and stole second. The UVa-Wise catcher attempted to throw the sophomore out on the play, but overthrew the ball. Brinkley was able to cross the plate in that span, along with Whitson moving over one more base. Franse notched a single to right with Whitson touching home easily.
The Pioneers extended their lead with two more runs in the sixth. Sammie West doubled down the left field line and a Whitson ground out allowed her to advance to third. Franse hit a single up the middle, plating West. Tori West drew a walk, moving Franse into scoring position. Anna Alloway reached on a fielding error by the second baseman, giving Franse enough time to score.
The Cavaliers tied the contest at 5-all in the bottom half of the inning on back-to-back homeruns. Katie Russell launched a two-run shot to right center and Casey Chambers followed with a solo homer.
Looking to avoid extra innings or a chance at a walk-off by UVa-Wise, Tusculum received a homerun off the bat of Brown to give the Pioneers a one-run cushion. Sammie West knocked a single into left, bringing Whitson up to the plate. In a crucial moment, she hammered her first career homer over the centerfield fence to put the game out of the Cavaliers' reach.\
Richesin (7-1) pitched up her seventh win of the year, along with a career-best nine strikeouts. Delilah Malczewski earned her conference-leading third save, striking out the final two batters for emphasis.
Game 2: UVa-Wise 9, Tusculum 1 (5 innings)
The Cavaliers used three homeruns and two doubles to run-rule the Pioneers in game two of the doubleheader.
UVa-Wise drew first blood with a RBI double in the bottom of the first.
In the top of the second, Tusculum scored its lone run on an attempted steal. Franse was thrown out at second, but it shifted focus away from Sammie West sliding into home. West drew a walk, sacrifice bunted over by Whitson, and reached third on a Franse infield single.
In the third inning, the Cavaliers hit two homers, a two-run and a three-run. Later in the fourth frame, a leadoff solo shot made the lead 7-1 in the home team's favor. Two more runs scored on consecutive plays, extending the advantage into run-rule territory. Tusculum was unable to scrounge up a run to prolong the contest, thus UVa-Wise salvaged a split with the Pioneers.
Malczewski (3-1) is credited with her first loss at Tusculum after giving up three earned runs in just over two innings of work as the starter.