DUNCAN, S.C. – The Converse (0-8) softball team fell twice to the Tusculum (4-0) Pioneers on Thursday afternoon at Tyger River Park. After dropping the first game 5-0 the Valkyries attempted a comeback in the second game of the twin-billing but came up on the short end of an 8-3 contest.
GAME ONE: CONVERSE 0, TUSCULUM 5
The Pioneers tacked on an unearned run in the top of the first following a leadoff walk that came around to score on a defensive miscue by the Valkyrie defense. That lead grew to 2-0 after a single run came across in the top of the second inning.
The Valkyries threatened in the bottom of the second, but was unable to push across their first run. Mariah Blackmon drew a one out walk before and was ran for by Kayla Gilfillan. Gilfillan swiped second base to put a runner in scoring position with only one down, but a strikeout and groundout put an end to the threat and left the score at 2-0 in favor of Tusculum.
The missed opportunity proved costly as Tusculum was able to extend its lead with one more run in the top of the third after a single up the middle by Taylor Battle. Innings four and five were uneventful, but the Pioneers scratched across two runs in the top of the sixth to extend the lead to 5-0. Emily Hester collected a two-RBI single for TC during the at-bat.
That score would hold true and TC took game one, 5-0. Marissa Steadman (0-3) took the tough loss after throwing 5.0 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) while scattering eight hits. Taylor Plemons (2-0) threw a complete-game shutout to earn the win for the Pioneers.
GAME TWO: CONVERSE 3, TUSCULUM 8
Tusculum picked up two runs in the top of the first after the Valkyries defense committed two errors in the frame. Delaney Guerrero tallied an RBI single while Anna Alloway produced a sacrifice fly in the at-bat.
Anna Alloway made the score 3-0 in favor of the Pioneers with a leadoff homerun in the top of the fourth inning. Converse was presented a golden opportunity in the bottom half of the fourth. Marissa Steadman coaxed a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a beautifully executed sacrifice bunt from Jena Massing. However, the next two batters were retired in order and the Valkyries failed to cut into the lead.
Two runs on two hits in the top of the fifth pushed the lead out to 5-0. Sammie West scored on a sacrifice fly while Delaney Guerrero touched the plate following a wild pitch. The Valkyries finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth.
Moriah Gomez started the frame with a walk before Steadman reached first on an error by the Pioneer pitcher, putting runners on first and second with no out. Massing grounded out to first to advance the lead runners to second and third, setting up Meredith Quarles' sacrifice fly.
However, Tusculum came back in the top of the seventh with three more runs to stretch the lead to 8-1, the big blow coming from a two-run homerun off the bat of Guerrero.
Converse put together its best inning in the home half of the seventh, scoring two runs, but it was too little, too late. During the at-bat Jianna Pellegrino ripped a bases loaded double to left center to score the pair of runs.
Pellegrino (1-0) took the loss after throwing all seven innings and allowing eight runs (six earned). Allison Pate (2-0) picked up the win, tossing 5.0 innings and not allowing a run while striking out eight.
The Valkyries will be back in action on Sunday, February 18 as they play host to St. Andrews in a doubleheader. The first game is scheduled to start at noon.