Tusculum upsets No. 2 North Georgia
Saints earn doubleheader split with 4-1 win in nightcap
DAHLONEGA, Ga. --- The Tusculum College softball team pulled off the biggest upset in the program's NCAA Division II era with a 2-1 eight-inning victory against second-ranked North Georgia in the opening game of the teams' non-conference doubleheader Friday afternoon.
Ashley Burke hit a game-tying home run in the top of the seventh inning and Savannah Ewing came through with the tiebreaking single in the eighth to give the Pioneers the victory in the opener. The Saints (21-3) earned the split of the doubleheader with a 4-1 win in game two to bring an end to the Pioneers' winning streak at 14 consecutive games.
A third-inning run by the Saints stood as the difference until the top of the seventh, when Burke led off the inning by hitting an 0-2 pitch from North Georgia starter Jessica Coan deep to tie the game.
The Saints looked for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, but Paige Sneed threw out consecutive runners attempting to steal second to send the teams to extra innings tied at 1-1.
Sneed was placed on second via the international tiebreaker to start the eighth, and moved to third on a sacrifice by Lindsay Bridges. After a strikeout, Ewing singled down the left-field line to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Natasha Willemse was placed on second to lead off the inning. Ansley Williams singled to left but was thrown out trying to move to second for the first out, with Willemse moving to third. Kasey Knight followed with a fly ball to center for the second out, and Willemse was called out for leaving third early to end the game.
Tusculum senior righthander Erin Searcy (8-4) won her eighth straight start, allowing six hits and one earned run over eight innings while striking out two and walking a pair. Coan (8-2) fanned 16 and allowed four hits, but was saddled with the loss fo the Saints. Coan entered the game having allowed just 18 hits and two earned runs while striking out 98 in 54 innings of work, for a 0.26 earned run average.
Ewing finished 2-for-4 to lead the way for the Pioneers, while Pilar Harden was 2-for-3 with a triple for the Saints.
The Saints broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fourth, and added two more in the fifth and one in the sixth to salvage the split of the doubleheader.
Katherine Martin went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs for the Saints, while Knight and Hilary Cox each finished 2-for-3 at the plate.
Ewing went 2-for-3 for the Pioneers, who finished with three hits off North Georgia starter Sarah Phillips. Tusculum's lone run came in the sixth when Sneed led off with a double, and pinch-runner Brooklyn Cress came home on an error.
In the fourth, the Saints scored the game's first run when Knight led off with a single, advanced to third on a single by Cox and scored on a two-out single by Martin.
North Georgia took advantage of two Tusculum errors to score two runs in the fifth, as Willemse and Knight had RBI singles in the inning. In the sixth, the Saints scored an insurance run as Harden led off with a walked and came around on a single by Martin.
Phillips (9-1) gave up four hits and an unearned run for North Georgia, striking out five and walking none. Elizabeth Johnson (9-1) suffered her first loss of the season for the Pioneers, yielding seven hits and two earned runs while whiffing five.