GADSDEN, Ala. — After almost two weeks of weather-related delays, the Cleveland State softball team finally hit the diamond Wednesday afternoon, opening the 2014 season on the road with a pair of games at Gadsden State.
The Lady Cougars won a pitchers’ duel in game one, 2-1 but couldn't produce much offense in second game as the Cardinals took game two, 8-0 for a split of the days activities.
Runs were hard to come by for both teams in game one. The home team managed to push a run across in the bottom of the third on a single, a sacrifice bunt and two passed balls, the second one allowing a run for a 1-0 Cardinal lead.
The score stayed right there until the Lady Cougars stepped in the box for their final at bat in the top of the seventh. Perry Hindi got the Lady Cougars rally started with a single and Emily Huston moved her up a base by drawing a walk. Kristen Qualls delivered a clutch pinch-hit double down the right-field line to plate both Hindi and Huston and just like that, the Lady Cougars took their first lead of the day 2-1.
Kelsey Haley tossed seven strong innings slamming the door on the Cardinals in the seventh frame to pick up the win for the Lady Cougars. Haley scattered five hits, struck out three and allowed only one walk along the way. Bethany Chamblee pitched well in defeat for the home team.
“Great first game of the season,” commented Lady Cougars coach Katie Willingham. “We were excited to finally get to play after all the snow delays, and the girls were ready to get on the field. We did a good job of putting the ball in play, but right at people. Qualls came off the bench and gave us a big lift with the double and Kelsey did a great job on the mound. I'm very proud of the girls, they didn't quit.”
Game two was a different story as Gadsden State broke out the big bats and ended the game in a hurry. The Cardinals score twice in the second, two more times in the third and salted the win away with four in the fourth. Chamblee singled in a pair of runs, Hannah McCreless and Allie Brassell hit a solo homer each and an error and another run scoring double from Brassell accounted for most of the scoring in game two.
“Our bats never got hot today,” said Willingham. “We got clutch hitting in the first game, but nothing really happened in the second game. With this being our first game, we had high expectations, but our focus is now on our conference games this weekend.”
Allison Conley took the loss for the Lady Cougars (1-1) while Ida Watson pitched in relief. Brittany Bishop tossed a one-hit shutout for Gadsden State (2-5). Huston picked up the only Lady Cougar hit in game two.
Cleveland State will travel to Chattanooga State Friday and Saturday for a four game Region VII conference series.