DAHLONEGA, Ga. -- Back-to-back two-run home runs and good pitching lifted Georgia Southwestern softball team to their first quarterfinal win in 10 years in the Peach Belt Conference tournament as the Lady Canes defeated Columbus State 7-4 Friday afternoon inside Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
Head coach Nicki Levering picked up her first postseason win in just her second year coaching the Lady Canes. GSW's first postseason win came in 2009 under head coach Eddie Ward, who defeated UNC Pembroke 2-0 in 12 innings.
GSW ended the regular season losing both doubleheaders at Columbus State in five innings but the Lady Canes got sweet revenge, defeating the Cougars for the fifth time in school history. GSW's last win over Columbus State was in 2014.
The Lady Canes reached the semifinals for the first time in school history as they will play Young Harris in round two of the PBC Tournament.
How It Happened:
The Lady Canes were in scoring position in the first inning when Hayley Tierce doubled into centerfield, advancing Chloe Zoeller, who was walked, to third base but was surrendered on a Lauren Kuerzi pop up for the third out and couldn't score. In the top of the third with one out and Shannon Gibson on base, Kayla Kerr hit a two-run homer over the left field wall to put the Lady Canes on the board first. Tierce was walked and Kuerzi went down swinging for the second out of the inning as Sarah Beth King approached the plate. King shattered one right over the center field's head out the ball park for another two-run homer that put GSW up 4-0 to end the inning. Columbus State scored in the bottom of the third off a throwing error by Gibson, as the runners advanced and crossed home plate for a 4-1 score. CSU's Kirstin Reynolds picked up a sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the fourth that cut the score in half.
The Cougars picked up both of their errors in the top of the sixth inning as GSW capitalized off them, scoring three runs to extend the lead. After a Cougar pitching change, Aimee Oglesby singled to short stop. Briana Bryson went up to SAC bunt but successfully reached base on a Cougar throwing error as that led Oglesby to advancing to third base. Mackenzy McFarland picked up an RBI as she reached base on fielder's choice that pushed Oglesby across the plate while Bryson and McFarland both advanced, stealing a base. Gibson followed suit with a bunt RBI herself, scoring Bryson. McFarland advanced to third but due to another throwing error, she ran into home as the Lady Canes led 7-2.
In the bottom sixth, CSU's Elyse Ambrose reached base with a single up the middle. Elizabeth Perdue followed up with a single into right field to put the Cougars in scoring position with no outs. With an 0-2 count, Reynolds hit a two-run double down the left field line to push two Cougars across the plate for a 7-4 score. Jennifer Jernigan was sent in to relief Gibson and closed the game, securing GSW's win.
Who Stood Out:
Gibson picked up her 11th win of the season inside the circle while giving up six hits and four runs and striking out three batters. Jernigan got her second save of the season while striking out two Cougars and walking two. Kerr and King were both 1-for-3 with one home run, one run and two RBIs each.
The Cougars tallied for a total of 12 strikeouts while only giving up five GSW hits as both teams finished with two errors.