Columbus State Falters Against No. 3 North Georgia, 4-1
Columbus – No. 3 North Georgia scored the games final four runs to pull out a 4-1 victory over Columbus State in game two of a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Cougar Field. The two sides split the doubleheader as CSU pulled out a 1-0 win to begin the day.
Things got off to a shaky start for the Lady Cougars in the top half of the inning as two straight illegal pitches with a 2-1 count to Pillar Harden awarded the centerfielder first base with the walk. Rochelle Shuman reached on a fielding error and following a pop-out, Karlie Gillam loaded the bases also via a fielding error.
Mollie Russell did what she did in the first game bailing out the defense striking out Sarah Johnson before Kayla Minger lined out to first base to get out of the jam.
Columbus State (26-12, 5-3) threatened in the second inning but the rare "Look Back Rule" came into effect costing them at least one run. Kara Gordon drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed over to second by Morgan Staffins. No one was covering third allowing Gordon to take the bag. The ball was thrown to the pitcher with Gordon off the base where she was not making an attempt to score or retreat to third base therefore ruling her out on the "Look Back Rule."
Kori Waugh proceeded to walk in the next at-bat before Taylor Turner laced a single up the middle. Kristen Gregory flew out to end the inning without the Lady Cougars putting one on the board.
CSU finally did crack threw an inning later as Branigan Wix began the frame with a single through the right side. Morgan Knight singled to centerfield before Casey Googe brought home Wix with a single to leftfield giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
North Georgia (31-7, 5-3) responded a half inning later posting a three-spot in the fourth inning. Gillam was hit by a pitch starting off the frame and was pinch-ran for by Katie Garrett. Johnson then singled to right-centerfield moving Garrett to third.
With Russell holding the ball in the circle, Johnson hesitated and broke for second but was not called out for the "Look Back Rule" putting both runners in scoring position. A walk loaded the bases before a passed ball and wild pitch plated the Lady Saints first two runs making it a 2-1 ballgame. A failed pickoff attempt at third allowed the final run of the frame to come across.
Kayla Minger singled in North Georgia's fourth run of the game in the fifth after two straight walks and a groundout put runners at second and third.
Columbus State made things interesting in the seventh inning bringing up the game-winning run to the plate but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. Wix reached on a fielding error followed by an infield hit by pinch-hitter Sydney Finley. After an infield fly out, Googe was hit by a pitch to load the bases. With two attempts to potentially hit a walk-off grand slam, CSU came up a bit short.
Russell (12-7) suffered the losing working 3.2 innings giving up three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks. Turner tossed 2.1 innings surrendering a run on three hits while Kelsey Gilliam worked a clean frame in the seventh. Turner was also 2-for-3 at the plate while Googe drove in the only run of the game for the Lady Cougars going 1-for-3.
Melissa Dickie was able to work herself out of several jams throughout the game was she improved to 10-0 on the season. She threw all seven innings allowing one run on seven hits and three walks. Mackenzie Arlt was the lone Lady Saint to have a multi-hit performance going 2-for-3.
CSU returns to the diamond on Friday, March 30 when they travel to Savannah to take on No.16 Armstrong Atlantic State University in a critical Peach Belt Conference doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the Armstrong Softball Field.