MARS HILL, N.C. – The Mars Hill (11-25, 4-10 SAC) softball team was swept by Tusculum (20-18, 6-6 SAC) College on Sunday afternoon at Ponder Field. The Pioneers were able to down the Lions by finals of 9-7 and 10-5.
GAME ONE: MHU 7, TC 9
Tusculum plated three runs in the top of the second to take the early advantage. A hit-by-pitch started the frame and the big blow came off the bat of Taylor Battle as she lifted a fly ball over the fence in center field for a two-run shot, staking the visitors to the 3-0 lead.
The Lions came back in the bottom half of the second to cut into the lead with a single run. A defensive miscue by the Pioneers allowed Kaleigh Jonas to sprint home from third, cutting the TC lead to 3-1 after two. Tusculum got that run back in the top of the third, capitalizing on an error by the Blue and Gold defense.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both teams, TC added to its lead with three runs in the top of the fifth. Rachel Wisner tallied a RBI double while Delaney Guerrero and Sammie West added RBI singles during the at-bat.
Down 7-1 in the late stages of the game, Mars Hill made a valiant comeback in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jonas singled to left to start the frame and Emiley Burriss was hit by a pitch. Following an out Krista Romine walked to load the bases and set the stage for Addison Harris, who tattooed a ball over the wall for her first career grand slam.
The scoring did not stop there as Cassidy Dahle started things back up with a double to left center and advanced to third on a wild pitch while Ragan Broome coaxed a walk to put runners on the corners with one down. Casey Stanek ripped a single to center to plate Dahle and Jonas collected her second hit of the inning, this time a double to score Stanek and knot the contest at 7-all heading to the last inning of play.
However, the Pioneers came back in the top half of the seventh and posted two runs off a triple from West and the Lions went quietly in the bottom of the frame, dropping the heartbreaker 9-7.
Stanek (2-8) suffered the loss after allowing three runs on five hits over 3.0 innings, while Allison Pate picked up the win for the Pioneers, throwing 1.1 innings of one-hit softball.
Stanek and Jonas led the Lions at the plate with two hits each in game one, while Harris' four RBIs were a game-high.
GAME TWO: MHU 5, TC 10
Game two was an offensive struggle as both teams had a hard time stringing anything together the majority of the contest.
Mars Hill threatened in the bottom of the second, putting runners on second and third with one out, but could not get a timely hit and the game remained in a scoreless deadlock. Tusculum was presented a chance in the top of the fourth as Emily Hester led off with a double, but starting pitcher Shelby Culler pitched around the jam without allowing a runner to touch the plate.
A scoreless fifth for both teams led to a plethora of scoring in the sixth inning. Taylor Johnson broke the tie for the Pioneers with a three-run blast and TC scored a total of 10 times in the inning to blow the game wide open. Johnson also added a two-RBI single during the at-bat and Jenna Restivo drove in two runs with a triple down the right field line.
The Lions came back in the bottom of the sixth with five runs of their own. Taylor Lail and Ragan Broome started the frame off with back-to-back singles before Krista Romine cleared the left center fence for a three-run homerun. Kaleigh Jonas double to left center and following an out Emily Crouse brought her home on a sharp single to right center. Cassidy Dahle singled to short and Casey Stanek added a RBI double to cut the Pioneers lead in half (10-5).
However, that was as close as the score would get as the Lions were held scoreless in the bottom of the seventh and dropped game two by that same score.
Culler (3-7) took the loss after throwing 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out five. Eliza Davis (5-3) earned the win, tossing 5.1 innings and allowing five runs on eight hits.
Three different players recorded a pair of hits for the Lions in the game two loss, while Romine's three RBIs led the team.
Mars Hill will return to action on Friday, April 14 as they travel to Charlotte, N.C. to take on the Royals of Queens University in a pivotal South Atlantic Conference matchup. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.