The Cleveland State softball team started the day on Thursday seemingly with two strikes already against it. One was the terribly cold temperatures at game time, and the second was the defending NJCAA National Champion, Chattanooga State Lady Tigers.
In the Region VII Conference opener for both squads, the Lady Tigers flexed their muscles early and often as they blanked the Lady Cougars, who had gone 16 days between games due to weather cancellations, in both ends of the doubleheader, taking game one 11-0 and game two 8-0.
The Lady Tigers roared right out of the gate with a five-run first inning to start game one. Three Cleveland State miscues, an illegal pitch an RBI double by Layce Walker and RBI singles from Elyse Ferguson and Marina Wilkerson put the visitors on top 5-0.
Chattanooga State added a run in the second on back to back doubles by Lauren Heitz and Emily Dagnan and then put the game completely out of reach with four more in the fourth. Courtney Clark did the damage with a bases loaded triple as the visitors finished off the win in game one.
Haley Fagan went the distance for the Lady Tigers, allowing only three hits along the way to get the win. Ciera Belcher, Emily Huston and Maura Ditto had the three hits for Cleveland State (1-3, 0-2).
It was more of the same in game two as the Lady Tigers completed the sweep of the day’s activities. A solo homer by Beth Breeden leading off the second inning put her team on top while a second run later scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Cougars hung tough until the fifth inning as the score remained right there. Baylee Williams finally broke through with a two-run double and then scored on a single from Ferguson to push the lead to 5-0.
The Lady Tigers then finished what they started with three more in the sixth with the long ball as Wilkerson blasted a solo shot and Lacye Walker followed with a two-run dinger of her own to take the 8-0 win.
Shelby Willard picked up the win for the Lady Tigers (9-5, 2-0) going the distance and giving up only two hits and striking out nine. Belcher and Sydney Howell picked up the two Cleveland State hits.
The teams will meet again on Friday for two more Conference games at Lady Cougar Field starting at 2 p.m.
Cougar baseball games reset
The Chattanooga State at Cleveland State three-game series has been moved to a Sunday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m., plus a single game Monday with a 2 p.m. first pitch.