Late Rally Earns Lady Canes Weekend Sweep

Late Rally Earns Lady Canes Weekend Sweep

AMERICUS, Ga. -- A four-run seventh inning sent game two into extra innings before a Graysen Sanders walk-off single in the 10th gave the Georgia Southwestern State University softball team a 6-5 win and Sunday sweep of Lander University at Lady Canes Field.

The Lady Canes took the first game of the day 6-5 to improve their overall record to 15-18 this spring while moving to 4-4 in Peach Belt Conference play.

Lander fell to 19-11 overall and 3-5 in conference play after dropping a two-game set with Columbus State Saturday. 

Shannon Gibson recorded five hits and three RBIs in the two games to go along with the game-winning run on the Sanders single after she doubled to start off the inning.

How It Happened:

Game 1: Georgia Southwestern 6 Lander 5

The Bearcats scored two runs on two hits off Madason Messer to start the game and take an early lead, but GSW came back in the bottom half against Lander ace McKenzi Ferguson to take a lead of their own. Gibson got the Lady Canes on the board with a 2-run single to right center and Elizabeth Wills came around to score on an error making it 3-2 GSW after the first.

Lander got to Messer again in the second, scoring on a Sydney Grimes RBI single and a bases loaded walk issued to Kelli McCormack. Messer got a groundout to end the inning and escape the jam giving up just two runs. Chloe Zoeller singled to start the bottom half of the second and came around to score on a Wills single to right field making the score 4-4 after two innings of play.

Both pitchers got through the third before Lander jumped out in front again in the fourth. Two singles and a groundout put runners in scoring position for Grimes who hit an RBI groundout to first scoring Jace Bennefield. The Lady Canes yet again had an answer in the bottom half of the inning as Mikela Barlow hit her third homer of the season, a solo shot to right center that evened the score again at 5-5.

GSW took the lead for good in the fifth thanks to another hit from Barlow. Graysen Sanders led off with a single and moved to third on an Ansley Dean lineout after getting to second via a Chloe Zoeller sacrifice bunt. Barlow followed with the clutch, 2-out single to center that plated Sanders and made it a 6-5 Lady Canes lead.

Messer sat the Bearcats down in order in both the sixth and seventh to earn her second complete game win in as many days and move to 6-1 on the season. The junior transfer gave up five earned runs on 10 hits and struck out three batters.  Ferguson took just her fourth loss of the year for Lander, falling to 13-4 after allowing two earned runs on 11 hits with five strikeouts.

Game 2: Georgia Southwestern 5 Lander 4

Brittany Childs got the start in game two and made it through the first two innings before Lander got on the board in the third with a 2-out rally. Childs retired the first two batters, but trouble started with a walk to Grimes. McCormack followed with a double down the left field line putting runners at second and third for Halie Sorrow. She came through with a single to bring home both runners and give Lander a 2-0 lead.

Ansley Dean came on to replace Childs in the top of the fourth and got through the inning before giving up a run in the fifth. Casey Wooten reached on an error to start the inning and came around to score an unearned run on a McCormack sacrifice fly to left that gave the Bearcats a 3-0 lead.

Lander added insurance in the top of the seventh thanks to a Sorrow solo homer over the fence to center, making it 4-0 heading to the final frame.

GSW struggled to get things going against starter Brianna Surrento all game long, but Ashley Vinson came on to replace Surrento in the seventh and the Lady Canes got the offense going. Dean reached on an error to start the inning and Vinson issued a walk to Barlow before Hayley Tierce followed with an RBI single to make it a 4-1 game.

Lander head coach Glen Crawford went back to Surrento with runners at the corners and nobody out. After struggling all day, Lauren Kuerzi came through with an RBI fielder's choice squeeze bunt that caught the defense off guard and scored Barlow to put runners on first and second. Wills followed and put down a sacrifice bunt to moved Tierce and Kuerzi into scoring position with just one out. That brought up Gibson who ripped a groundout to short that scored Tierce and Kuerzi was able to race home and score the tying run when the throw from first got by the third baseman and went to the fence.            

Neither team could get anything going in the eighth or ninth, but GSW ended it in the tenth. Gibson led off with a double to right and scored the game-winning run on Sanders' single up the middle to give the Lady Canes their fourth straight conference win.

Dean threw seven innings and gave up just the one earned run on eight hits to earn her second win of the season. Surrento went 9 ⅓ innings,  giving up just one earned run on 10 hits with five strikeouts to fall to 5-5 this spring.

Up Next: The Lady Canes step out of conference play for a Wednesday doubleheader with West Georgia. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. with the second game to follow at 5:00 p.m.