Lady Blue Devils rally in Game 1, hang on in Game 2
By JOSHUA FULLER
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
Two big innings lifted the Columbus High School softball team to the Elite 8 on Wednesday with an 8-2, 7-6 sweep of Dalton at Hill Field.
It will be the seventh trip for Columbus to the Elite 8 and its fourth in the past seven seasons.
"The girls overcame adversity today, especially in the first game," first-year Columbus coach Chad Mathis said. "(I am) proud of our offense. They did exactly what I told them to do, but (we) still need to work on our defensive play.
Dalton put two runs on the board in the first inning of the opener thanks in part to some shaky Columbus defense and some jitters.
After a walk and a hit batter, Ally Blackwood hit a soft drooping liner up the middle, which second baseman Kayla Brena grabbed. With Blackwood hustling down the line, Brena's throw went high and ended in the first base dugout, allowing Sarah Stinnet to cross the plate for the first run of the game.
Columbus struck for a run in the second. Brena redeemed her first-inning error with a two-out base hit to center field that chased home Smith, who lead off with a walk.
Columbus blew open the game in the third inning, sending 10 batters to the plate en route to four runs on five hits.
Alexis Jones started with a screaming liner that hit off the right-centerfield fence for a triple. Back-to-back doubles by Hillary Waters and Stohr put Lady Blue Devils ahead. Syerra Askew added a RBI later in the inning.
Mary Catherine Smith ended Game 1 in a groove, retiring the final seven batters she faced.
Game 2 started out with a bang for Columbus High as the Lady Blue Devils posted seven runs in the first. Jones led the first off with a double down the left field line and Walters moved her up with a bunt single.
After a hit batter loaded the bases and an out, Askew stepped to the plate with one out and hit a chopper to the third baseman, who decided to try and cut down Jones at the plate. However, the throw was errant, allowing Jones to score.
Sidney Sprague roped a double down the third baseline to put Columbus up 4-0.
Another fielder's choice brought in a run and a RBI double by Alex Head capped the scoring.
Dalton pushed across four runs in the second off Jones after Columbus made a costly error.
After a single run in the fifth to cut the Columbus lead to 7-5, Dalton made another rally in the seventh.
Jones got the first batter of the inning to groundout but another hit batter gave Dalton a new life.
After a wild pitch and a groundout put the runner on third, a error extended the game and pushed the score to 7-6.
However, Jones struck out the final batter for the victory.
Wednesday at Lakebottom
Dalton 200 000 0--2 3 2
Columbus 014 120 x--8 12 2
WP--Mary Catherine Smith (20-2-1) LP--Ally Blackwood (NA). Hitting leaders - Columbus, Hillary Waters 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 run; Lexie Stohr 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, 1 run; Dalton, Blackwood 2-3; Harris 1-3.
Columbus 700 000 0--7 8 2
Dalton 040 010 1--6 6 2
WP - Alexis Jones LP - Ally Blackwood. Hitting leaders - Columbus, Sydney Sprague 3-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 run; Jones 2-4 2 2B, RBI, run; Dalton, Destinee Woods 1-4 ,2 RBI. Records - Columbus 30-4-1, Dalton 15-19. Next - Dalton, season over; Columbus, Oct. 25 Crisp County/West Laurens Elite 8