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Lady Railsplitters stumble on opening day of Food Lion SAC Softball Championship; fall to Tusculum, 9-2

HARROGATE, Tenn. - The fifth-seeded Lincoln Memorial University Lady Railsplitters committed four untimely errors, and a number of other defensive miscues, as the fourth-seeded Tusculum Pioneers nabbed a 9-2 victory on the opening day of the 2014 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Softball Championship on Thursday at Dorothy Neely Field in Harrogate, Tennessee. The Lady Railsplitters fall into the loser's bracket to face top-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne, who dropped a 16-inning marathon on Thursday evening, at 10 a.m. in Middlesboro.

The Lady Railsplitters were led by senior Kirstin Toole (De Bary, Fla.), who went 3-for-3 with three singles. Jennifer Moose (Statesville, N.C.) was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while Emilee Solomon (Knoxville, Tenn.) drove in a run with a single.

Paige Sneed paced the Pioneers at the plate with a 3-for-3 day that included three RBI, while Kaytlin Stroinski posted two hits with two runs scored and a walk. Both Tavi Parris and Katie Brennan scored two runs apiece with 1-for-3 outings.

The Pioneers pulled away late with a four-run flourish in the bottom of the sixth, but the Lady Railsplitters aided their earlier efforts with a number of defensive miscues. Solomon propped Lincoln Memorial to a 1-0 lead with an RBI-single in the top of the second, but the Pioneers answered with two runs in the bottom half of that frame. A hard hit ball by Tavi Parris skipped over the glove of the LMU shortstop, while a muffed throw on a potential double play ball extended the inning even further. Tusculum capitalized with a run-scoring single from Sneed and a RBI-walk by Carolyn Williamson.

The Pioneers added an insurance run in the fourth as pinch runner Leah Powell advanced to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a ground out and scored on another wild pitch. That run was offset by the Lady Railsplitters in the fifth as Moose doubled and scored on Payton Bruce's (Maiden, N.C.) single back up the box.

Holding a 4-2 advantage, the Pioneers scored six-unanswered runs to put the game out of reach. An error at second base gave the Pioneers life in the fifth as they tacked on a run on the miscue while adding another on an RBI hit-by-pitch. Nicole Ball's two-run double paced the four-run sixth frame that bolstered the Pioneers' advantage to 9-2.

The Lady Railsplitters put two runners aboard in the top of the seventh, but All-SAC Honorable Mention pitcher Kelly King dusted off her complete game by inducing a pair of fly outs and a ground out. King allowed nine hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts in seven innings of work, picking up the win on her 99-pitch outing.

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