Late Innings Heroics Lift Lady Cougars Past Augusta State
Dahlonega – Morgan Staffins laced a two-out single to left-centerfield driving in Kara Gordon from third base giving Columbus State University a 2-1 victory over Augusta State in the opening game of the NCAA Southeast Regional played in Dahlonega, Georgia. The game took place at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
With two-outs in the top of the sixth, Gordon lined a ball to centerfield that Kristen Jones dove for and missed allowing the junior to race around the bases for a triple. On the first pitch Staffins saw, the first baseman delivered for CSU lacing a single to left-centerfield driving in the game-winning run.
From there, Mollie Russell continued her great postseason run retiring Augusta State in order in the sixth and seventh as the Lady Cougars recorded their first NCAA Tournament win since 2007.
To end the game, Russell retired the last nine batters she face and 14 out of the final 15. The junior did not allow a hit after the first inning on her way to her 28th complete game of the season. Russell (21-10) struck out six batters and walked just two.
Augusta State starter Heather Hughes looked dominant to begin the game striking out the first two batters she faced. With two-outs, Augusta State decided to go right after Casey Googe, the Peach Belt Conference single-season home run record holder. The sophomore once again stepped up for the Lady Cougars launching her 22nd home run of the season over the left-centerfield wall.
After the blast, Kara Gordon reached base on an infield single but a fly out ended the inning.
Augusta State (31-17) came right back in the bottom of the first as leadoff batter Kacee Camp reached base on a swinging bunt right in front of the plate. After back-to-back strikeouts, a wild pitch allowed Camp to move up to second. On the next pitch, Jessica Thornton singled up the middle tying the game at one.
In the third, Branigan Wix hit a single just past a diving third baseman into leftfield to lead off the frame. Next up was Nina Rubio who lined into a double play as she hit a ball straight back to the pitcher.
ASU had their best scoring threat since the first in the bottom of the third as Camp drew a one-out walk. A fielding error on Gordon put two runners on for the middle of the Jaguar order. However, Russell dug deep inducing a soft liner to second and a groundout to get out of the jam.
Hughes was tough on Columbus State (40-18) in the middle innings of the game retiring eight batters in a row until Wix recorded her second single of the game in the fifth inning. With Rubio batting, Wix stole second but was stranded on a Rubio popped out.
After the sixth inning rally, the Lady Cougars put runners on the corners with two-outs in the seventh inning after pinch-hitter Lucy Lamb singled down the rightfield line but Hughes ended the threat getting Morgan Knight to fly out.
Kara Gordon and Branigan Wix had the lone multi-hit games going 2-for-3. Both Casey Googe and Morgan Staffins were 1-for-3 with a RBI.
Kacee Camp was 1-for-2 for Augusta State while Jessica Thornton was 1-for-3 with a RBI.
Heather Hughes (10-9) was struck with the loss tossing all seven innings allowing two runs on seven hits.
Columbus State will now play top-seeded and 11th ranked North Georgia. First pitch will be at 1:30 p.m. at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium in Dahlonega.