The Cleveland State softball team won the first game of a doubleheader Thursday afternoon, 3-2 in extra innings at Lady Cougar Field.
The Lady Cougars came within one out of a sweep, but the Southwest Tennessee Lady Saluqis staged a dramatic comeback to win game two, 8-6.
Southwest struck first in game one, pushing a run across in its first turn at the plate. Two straight singles led to the first score as Tara Comer knocked in the run with a groundout for a 1-0 lead.
The Lady Cougars came right back in their half of the first, when Emily Huston drew a two-out walk then came all the way around to score on a Southwest miscue to tie the game at 1-1.
The home team took the lead an inning later after Leslie Nunnelly singled and came around to score on an error for a 2-1 advantage.
Once again the Lady Saluqis scratched out a run to tie the game in the top of the fifth, as Comer singled home the tying run and eventually forced extra innings.
A one-out double from Tori Roberts in the bottom of the eighth put the Lady Cougars in business. Jennifer Kern laid down a nice sacrifice bunt and Nunnelly ended game one with a solid single to give the home team the win.
Ida Watson went the distance to pick up the win for the Lady Cougars while Taylor Thomas suffered the loss for Southwest.
The Lady Saluqis jumped out front in game two as Alex Turner belted a solo homer in the top of the third to put the visitors on top, 1-0.
The Lady Cougars got that run back and added two more in their half of the third. Singles by Sara O’Rear, Huston, Hindi and Hannah Powell accounted for all three runs. Hindi and Powell picked up an RBI each while the third run crossed on a Southwest miscue for a 3-1 advantage.
Southwest seesawed back in front in the top of the fifth as Dallas Chipman doubled off the fence with the bases loaded for three big runs and Comer followed with the third bloop hit of the inning to add another run to help her team take a 5-3 lead.
The Lady Cougars made some noise in the bottom of the sixth as they erased the Southwest lead in dramatic fashion. Back-to-back one-out singles from Tori Roberts and Ashley Swaney put the tying runs on base and with two outs and two strikes, O'Rear came through with a clutch double into the left-center field gap to plate both runs and tie the game. Nunnelly then put her team on top with a triple into the other outfield gap to push O'Rear across the plate for a 6-5 lead.
The Lady Saluqis just would not go away as they staged a rally of their own in the top of the seventh. A single, a walk and an error put runners on second and third with one out. A great diving catch at first base by Roberts recorded out number two. Kelsey Knight then singled home the tying run and Alex Stanford followed that by singling in two more to put Southwest on top for good, 8-6.
A two-out double by Kristen Qualls brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but the Lady Saluqis recorded the final out to seal the win and the split of the twin bill.
Kayla Wright picked up the win for the Lady Saluqis (11-41, 5-29) while Kelsey Haley took the loss for Cleveland State (20-26, 15-19).