COLUMBUS – The Georgia Southwestern softball team knew what was at stake when it traveled to Columbus State on Thursday evening. Win both games or the season was most likely over.
The Lady Hurricanes played like an inspired team in the opener and a Robyn Butler two-run home run in the seventh inning gave GSW a 2-1 lead, but CSU scored two in the bottom the inning to steal a 3-2 decision.
In the nightcap, a deflated GSW squad fell behind 7-0, but would not quit, scoring five runs over the final two innings and bringing the tying run the plate in the seventh inning, before losing 7-5.
Southwestern ends the spring with a 22-28 record and a 6-14 mark in Peach Belt Conference action. A 22-win season is GSW's best since 2006, when the program was a member of the NAIA. The six wins in conference are also the most by the program in its NCAA era.
With the sweep of GSW, Columbus State maintains its hold on second place in the PBC while improving to 36-10 on the year and 12-4 in conference play. Columbus State is 12-2 against the Lady Hurricanes since 2007.
In the opener on Thursday, GSW starter Jessica Martin and CSU's Kristi Bullard were deadlocked in a pitcher's duel the entire contest as they both kept the opposition scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Casey Googe gave CSU the lead with a solo home run.
Martin worked around a fielding error and a walk to limit the damage in the fifth inning.
After Gabby Buck's leadoff single in the first inning for GSW, Bullard retired 19 consecutive batters until Nichole Griffin poked a one-out single to center in the seventh, setting the stage for Butler's heroics. The home run was Butler's team-best fifth of the season and gave GSW a 2-1 advantage.
Back-to-back one-out singles for CSU in the bottom of the seventh inning, a hit batter and a fielding error allowed the Cougars to tie the game at 2-2. Keeley Kennedy proceeded to deliver the game-winning hit.
Martin (6-8) suffered the hard-luck loss allowing three runs - two earned - over 6 1/3 innings. She allowed five hits and two walks while striking out four. Buck, Griffin and Butler had the only three hits for the Lady Hurricanes.
Bullard improved to 13-5 on the season as she tossed all seven innings allowing two runs on three hits while striking out two. Five different Lady Cougars picked up a hit.
In Game 2, Columbus State jumped out to a 7-0 lead through five innings of play. The Lady Cougars scored a run in the first, another in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth.
GSW would finally get to CSU starter Kelsey Gilliam in the sixth as the Lady 'Canes plated two runs in the frame on an RBI single from Heather Hodge and a sacrifice fly by Hayley Knight to narrow the deficit to 7-2.
Southwestern added three more runs in the top of the seventh as Mason Moreland and Butler hit RBI singles and Griffin scored on a fielder's choice. But, with two outs and a runner on first, the Lady Hurricanes' season ended on a ground out to third.
Christie Shankle took the loss in the circle for GSW, falling to 5-11 on the season. Shankle pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowed four runs on five hits, walked three and struck out two. Casey Burns tossed 1 1/3 innings of relief and Tiffany Milstid worked a scoreless sixth.
Gilliam notched the win for CSU, improving to 10-4 on the season. She worked six innings, allowing seven hits, and two earned runs while also fanning five. Isasi worked one inning in relief.
Griffin led all hitters with three hits in the nightcap. She finished the game 3-for-4 with a run scored. Butler and Lyndi Duff added two hits apiece.
Kara Gordon led CSU with her 2-for-3 performance at the plate. Gordon drove in two runs and also scored a run. Kori Waugh and Rocky Hemmer each hit a home run.