BRISTOL, TENN. – The Mars Hill softball team earned a split with non-conference opponent King on Thursday afternoon at the King Softball Complex. After dropping the first game 10-2, the Lions battled back to take game two by the final of 3-1 in eight innings. MHU now has a record of 7-15 on the season, while the Tornadoes took their record to 13-9.
GAME ONE: MHU 2, KU 10
Mars Hill put together a rally in the top of the first as Cassidy Dahle led things off with a single up the middle. Following an out, Casey Stanek added a single of her own to place runners at first and second. A double steal put both runners in scoring position, but a pop out and a strikeout left the Lions dry.
King pushed through on the scoreboard with single runs in the first and second innings. A double in the first by Kay Brokering scored Hannah Riddle, while a double by Hannah Devotie in the second plated Kaycee Castell.
The Lions finally got the bats going in the fourth. Stanek led the frame off with a single down the right field line and advanced to second on an error by the Tornado outfielder. Taylor Lail then laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt that was mishandled by the catcher and launched into the outfield, allowing Stanek to score the first run for Mars Hill. Emiley Burriss put down a sac bunt of her own to put the tying run 60 feet away. Kaleigh Jonas struck out swinging but the ball went through the catcher's legs and allowed the runner on third to score, knotting the game at 2-2.
However, King scored eight unanswered runs (one in the fourth, three in the fifth, and four in the sixth) to enforce the mercy rule against the Lions.
Dahle and Stanek led the charge offensively with two hits each, while Addison Harris collected a hit during her only at-bat. Stanek fell to 2-5 on the season as she was issued the loss after throwing four innings and giving up three runs (two earned). Emma Hughes (6-2) earned the win, tossing six innings of five hit, two-run ball.
GAME TWO: MHU3, KU 1
After a quiet first inning for both teams, Mars Hill threatened in the bottom of the second. After a leadoff out, Ragan Broome laced a single to right field before stealing second and advancing to third on an error by the King catcher. Unfortunately, that would be as close as she got to the plate as a groundout ended the half inning and the threat.
King took advantage of the missed opportunity and posted a run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second to take a 1-0 lead. MHU evened the contest at one each in the top of the fourth. Kaleigh Jonas lifted a fly ball to right field that was just deep enough to score Addison Harris, who led the inning off with a hard line drive up the middle.
From that point both offenses struggled to score the go ahead run, sending the game into extra innings. With the international rule in effect, the Lions placed the last batted out on second to start the eighth inning. Cassidy Dahle executed a perfect bunt single and then stole second to put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Casey Stanek sent the Lions ahead for the first time on the afternoon with a sac fly to right field and Dahle plated the second run of the at-bat as the throw by the right fielder went sailing into the home team's dugout, leaving the Blue and Gold ahead 3-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.
The Tornadoes put the tying run on second base after a sacrifice bunt, but starting pitcher Sydney Elkin slammed the door, collecting two weak groundouts to secure the victory for the Lions.
Harris went 2-for-3 from the plate to lead the Lions in game two, while Jonas and Stanek each added a RBI. Elkin (3-4) earned the victory after a masterful performance, allowing one run on five hits and striking out three over eight innings. Hayley Smothers (4-4) was tagged with the loss, giving up three runs and eight hits over eight innings.
The Lions will not be back in action until Saturday, March 18 as they open conference play, traveling to Newberry, S.C. to take on the Wolves. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.