The Columbus softball team trailed Cairo 5-2 entering the sixth inning of Wednesday’s Region 1-4A tournament matchup and desperately needed a spark. Pitcher Avery Hooper delivered it, and from there, the Lady Blue Devils did nothing but power through.
Hooper hit a single which was the start of a six-hit inning that saw Columbus post eight runs. The rally led to a 10-6 win which was a wild one for the Lady Blue Devils, which remain undefeated in the tournament and play Northside at 5 p.m. Thursday.
“It was nice,” said junior first baseman Abby Wynn, who was 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs in the victory. “We always struggle in the first half of the game to get things going, but we finally broke through. It felt really good to have the energy on our side.”
Wynn reasoned that it Hooper’s hit that set Columbus on a trajectory toward a wild win. Two batters after Hooper’s single, senior second baseman Emily Davis bunted to move two runs over, and an error allowed her to reach base and Hooper to score. Another error scored the next run before junior catcher Amanda Pate singled to tie the game 5-5.
Freshman right fielder Alexis Day’s fielder’s choice gave Columbus a 6-5 lead. As energizing as claiming the lead for the first time was, the Lady Blue Devils weren’t done.
Wynn hit a 2-RBI single after Day’s effort, pushing Columbus ahead 8-5. Four batters later, Davis hit an RBI single to give Columbus 10 runs on the day.
“It was great that we kept going,” Davis said. “We got Avery on first, then we kept pushing.”
As exciting as the win was, Hooper said it can carry over through the rest of the region tournament.
“I think it’s going to be big,” Hooper said. “It’s really boosting our confidence, knowing we can hang with other teams and we can battle back.”
Northside 11, Hardaway 0
With Northside senior Hannah George in the circle Tuesday, it was simply a matter of the Lady Patriots’ offense starting up. Junior shortstop Gabi Apiag handled that task, and from there the rout was on.
Apiag hit a two-run home run in the first inning that set the tone offensively in the 11-0 victory for the Lady Patriots. George, meanwhile, made quick work of the Hardaway hitters, striking out 12 of the 15 batters she faced in a five-inning perfect game.
“It had its ups and downs, and I told our girls they had to stay up,” Jacobs said. “We got out to a great start, then about the third inning we got in some good baserunning. Overall, I’m just really proud of the girls for staying up and going after it.”
George showed in the top of the first she was ready to go, fanning the first three Lady Hawks batters. Apiag made sure her pitcher had some breathing room in the second at-bat of the game, sending the softball over the center field wall for her second home run this year.
“I swung with confidence, and luckily it went over,” Apiag said. “I think the energy came up after that happened, and we just kept rolling with the hits. It was amazing to start it off for my team.”
As the offense repeatedly made Hardaway pay, George was diligent in her pitching. The result was another victory as the Lady Patriots notched another win.
“I’m a person who likes to get in a rhythm,” George said. “When I get into it, it just keeps going. It was just a mindset coming into the game, that I go out there and pitch for my team.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports