With the win, the Lady Cougars will advance and play the loser of the Volunteer State and Walter State game at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
The Lady Cougars put all the runs they would need on the board in their first turn at the plate. Amber Covington started the rally by beating out an infield single. With two outs, Maura Ditto doubled off the top of the fence, missing a homer by inches but scoring Covington for the first run of the game. Sydney Howell then ripped a single to left field, and with a little luck on her side, Ditto finally crossed the plate for a 2-0 Cleveland State lead.
The Lady Generals cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fifth as Tiffany Keck picked up a two-out double and sliced the lead to 2-1.
Cleveland State got that run back plus one in the top of the sixth, all with two outs. Covington doubled and scored on a clutch single from Ashlen Mitchell. Mitchell then came all the way around to score from first as Ditto turned a sure double into a long RBI single with her fancy baserunning for a 4-1 advantage.
The Lady Generals threatened in the sixth and loaded the bases in the seventh, but Lady Cougars pitcher Kenly Lambert was equal to the task as she put out the fire to secure the win. Paige French suffered the loss for Jackson.
“Scoring first was huge — it set the tone for the whole game,” said Lady Cougar coach Katie Willingham. “We hit the ball well, we played good defense, but we didn’t put them away when we should have. We executed when we needed to and did what we needed to do to win. Maura did a great job hitting today. We named her the Dirt Angel for her baserunning exploits, but we had fun and got the win, which is most important.”
In the first game, the Lady Cougars did not find the 10 a.m. start time to their liking as they were limited to only one hit as Rachel Curtis tossed a gem to lead Columbia State to the win. Curtis struck out 12 and gave up a lead-off single to Casey Griffin in her six innings of work while Brandie Lander tossed a scoreless seventh to seal the win.
A hit batter and two walks in the bottom of the first proved to be all the runs the Lady Chargers would need as Curtis doubled in two and Brandi Jett singled in another for a 3-0 lead.
Columbia State added a run in the fifth on a solo homer from Blakely Robertson and tacked on another in the sixth to finish the win.