The Cleveland State softball team swept a Region VII Conference doubleheader with Volunteer State Saturday afternoon at Lady Cougar Field in two very different ways, winning a pitcher's duel and a slugfest.
The Lady Cougars needed an extra inning to win a thriller in game one, 1-0 then came from behind in dramatic last-at-bat fashion to take game two, 8-7.
A good old fashioned pitcher's duel was the order of the day in game one. Lady Cougars' hurler Ida Watson and Lady Pioneers' Lauren Woodard matched each other pitch for pitch. Hits were few and far between and the game needed extra play to determine a winner.
After holding the visitors at bay in the top of the eighth, the Lady Cougars mounted a rally in their half of the frame. Leslie Nunnelly ripped a single to get the inning off and running. A sacrifice attempt turned into a base hit for Miranda Smith to put runners at first and second with no outs. With one out, Emily Huston promptly ended game one with double into the right-center field gap to plate Smith with the game winner for a 1-0 win.
Watson tossed eight scoreless innings for the Lady Cougars to pick up the win allowing only five hits along the way while Woodard was the tough luck loser for Volunteer State.
Game two started exactly as game one with Kelsey Haley for the Lady Cougars and Hannah Champion for Volunteer State hooking up in yet another pitcher's duel.
The Lady Pioneers finally broke the ice in the top of the fourth as a pair of Cleveland State miscues led to two runs. Sara Jane Barton doubled in a run while Jessyca Baker plated the other with a sacrifice fly to put Vol State on top, 2-0. The visitors added a run an inning later when Woodard doubled in a Lady Pioneer to push the lead to 3-0.
The Lady Cougars’ bats came to life in the bottom of the fifth in a big way as they sent 11 batters to the plate and exploded for five big runs on four hits, including two well placed bloop hits and a pair of Lady Pioneers errors. Perry Hindi and Ashley Swaney singled in a run each while Jennifer Kern knocked in two more with a single to put the home team on top 5-3.
The Lady Pioneers wasted no time tying the game once again with a pair of solo homers in the top of the sixth by Sydney Shoulders and pinch hitter Kaylee Jacobs.
The Lady Cougars went back in front in their half of the sixth when Huston crushed a solo homer over the left field fence to give her team a 6-5 lead.
Volunteer State took the lead again in the top of the seventh after Baker came up with the big two-run single to give the visitors a 7-6 lead.
The Lady Cougars just would not go quietly and they attempted one last comeback in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Sara O'Rear beat out an infield single and moved to second when the Lady Pioneers pitched around Huston for a walk. Perry Hindi became the hero of game two with a short-hop double off the right-field fence to plate O'Rear and Huston with the winning runs.
Kelsey Haley went the distance to get the hard-earned win for the Lady Cougars (15-23, 10-16) while Woodard took the loss in relief of Champion for the Lady Pioneers (22-17, 14-12).
The teams will play two more games to finish the series beginning today at noon.