JACKSON — The bus was rockin' and rollin' all the way home on Sunday night as the Cleveland State softball team celebrated its tremendous TCCAA Region VII four-game sweep of the Jackson State Lady Generals.
Rain pushed the weekend series back a day, but stopped just in time for the Lady Cougars to make their way to West Tennessee on Saturday afternoon as they captured both ends of a twin bill, 9-0 and 8-7 and then turned around and did the same thing on Sunday as they completed the long road trip and the sweep, winning 6-2 and 10-2.
"We played very well this weekend on the road," explained Lady Cougar coach Katie Willingham. "We had 42 hits in the series and played well on defense. Our pitching staff did a good job of keeping Jackson off balance. Overall, we did a great job and I couldn't be happier. Hopefully we can ride this momentum and finish the season strong."
The Lady Cougars (13-23, 8-16) scored all the runs they would need in game one on Saturday in their first turn at the plate in the top of the first inning. Emily Huston put both runs on the board as she used her speed for an inside-the-park home run while Miranda Smith scored in front of her for a lightning quick 2-0 lead.
The visitors doubled their lead in the fourth as Leslie Nunnelly knocked in a run and then put the game out of reach with five more runs in the sixth. Smith singled in a run, Sara O'Rear doubled in another and Perry Hindi put the exclamation point on game one with a three-run homer over the left field fence.
Ida Watson was almost unhittable as she tossed six shutout innings and allowed only three hits along the way to pick up the win. Ashlyn Hardee took the loss for Jackson State.
The hit parade kept right on rolling in game two as once again the Lady Cougars jumped out front with three runs in the top of the second. Ashley and Amber Swaney reached base to start the frame and both came around to score on a double from Nunnelly. Smith added another RBI with a single to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
The Lady Generals made some noise in their half of the second as they took their first lead of the day with a five-run inning. A miscue in the field allowed two runs to cross while Ashley Atardee singled one in and Lauren Pratt tripled in two more for a 5-3 advantage.
The lead didn't last very long as Amber Swaney doubled in the tying runs in the third and Hindi doubled in a pair in the fourth to put the Lady Cougars back on top, 8-5.
The home team made things interesting in their last at bat in the seventh as Pratt singled in a run and Kylee Hand doubled in another, but the Lady Cougars were able to stop the rally just in time to preserve an 8-7 win and a sweep of the days events.
Kelsey Haley picked up the win in relief of Allison Conley for Cleveland State while Lindsey Lay took the loss.
Jackson State scratched out a run in the bottom of the first in the first game on Sunday as Pratt did the damage again with a double.
Ashley Swaney and Tori Roberts singled in a run each in the top of the second to put the Lady Cougars on top, 2-1 and a solo homer from Huston and an RBI single by Hannah Powell in the fifth doubled the lead to 4-1.
After Jackson State got a run closer in the bottom of the fifth, the Lady Cougars finished game one with a pair of runs in the sixth as Huston and Hindi singled in a run each to secure the win, 6-2.
Watson turned in seven strong innings, allowing only two runs and four hits to get the win while Madelyn Mercer took the loss for Jackson State.
The Lady Cougars kept the pedal to the medal in the second game on Sunday as they quickly put the game out of reach with seven runs in the top of the first. Hindi doubled in two runs, an error allowed two more runs to cross and back-to-back triples from Nunnelly and Smith pushed three more runs home for a 7-0 lead.
Powell knocked in another run for the Cleveland ladies in the second and they tacked on two more in the sixth while the Lady Generals got their runs in the fourth on a wild pitch and a solo homer from Kirsten Henry in the sixth.
Haley went the distance to pick up the win for the Lady Cougars while Hardee took the loss for Jackson State.
The Lady Cougars will host Volunteer State in a four-game set this weekend.