The Lady Cougars pushed across a single run in the bottom of the first inning of game 1 when Paige Smith walked, moved to second on a passed ball and later scored on a double from Dee Elswick.
Cleveland State doubled its lead in the third as Elswick doubled again, moved to third on a single from Ashlen Mitchell and scored on a Lady Flame miscue for a 2-0 lead.
As it turned out, the runs were more than enough support for Lady Cougars’ starter Courtney Patrick, who went the distance tossing seven shutout innings and allowing only four hits in securing the win. Former Bradley Bearette Leah Banks pitched well for the Lady Flames but took the loss.
“Our bats were not as hot as we would have liked in the first game and we didn’t think that two runs would hold up,” explained Willingham. “But, with flawless defense and a great pitching performance from Courtney we managed to hold on. Courtney came out ready to win. She took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and I couldn’t ask much more from her.”
Game 2 was a pitcher’s duel until the fourth inning when the Lady Cougars’ bats came to life in a big way. Kelsey Baker got things started in the fourth by getting plunked with two outs. Sarah Goza came up with a clutch two-out RBI single and Abby O’Rear did the same for a 2-0 Cleveland State lead.
The home team brought the run rule into effect an inning later after putting six big marks on the board. Kenzie Fish singled and stole second base to get things started. A bunt single from Casey Griffin was followed by a pair of RBI singles from Baker and O’Rear while Kaitlyn Sowder finished the rally and the game with an RBI double.
Meghan Smith picked up the win for Cleveland State (2-0), going the distance and allowing only three hits while Katie Deems took the loss for Lee.
“We started slowly again in game 2, but fortunately we were able to turn it around,” the coach continued. “A scoreless game into the fourth inning will drive a coaching staff crazy. But the way we responded and ended the game in the fifth was somewhat comforting. Overall, I am very pleased with our first two wins, but we have to do a much better job of scoring early in games to take some pressure off our pitchers.”
The Lady Cougars will travel to Gadsden State this afternoon for a pair of games.