Posted: Mar 1, 2013 6:31 PM
Updated: Mar 1, 2013 8:13 PM
CONWAY, AR - The Cougar softball team kicked off its season with a pair of victories Friday at the Central Baptist University Invitational. Columbia defeated the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff 9-7 in their first game of the day and followed that up with a 6-3 win over Louisiana State University-Alexandria.
Marli Hayes got the Cougars on the board in the top of the first inning of game one, scoring Kristin Eiken with a two-out single to center field. After three scoreless innings, the Lions put up three runs in the bottom of the fourth against Columbia starter Tiffany Urwiler. The Cougars would respond in the top of the fifth as Karina Veit doubled home Kaylee Brueggeman, and later scored on a single by Jamie Holmes to tie score at 3-3.
Columbia kept the offense going in the top of the sixth as a single by Brittany Tjarks and double by Brueggeman put runners on second and third with one out. After Veit popped out for the second out of the inning, Holmes gave the Cougars a 5-3 lead with a two-out single to right. Columbia was unable to hold the lead as Arkansas-Pine Bluff responded with three runs once again in the bottom of the frame after Kristyn Caldwell replaced Urwiler with the bases loaded and one out.
After a leadoff single by Whitni Howell to begin the seventh, senior Chelsie Crain hit a one-out home run to put the Cougars back on top, 7-6. Columbia would tack on two more runs on a single by Veit after Jessica Hardy reached on an error and a double by Brueggeman put runners on second and third with two outs. Urwiler came back in to close out the game, giving up one run on two hits to secure the 9-7 victory.
Brueggeman scored three runs to help lead the Cougar offense, which finished with 13 hits in the game. Holmes and Veit each finished with two hits and three RBIs apiece. Urwiler allowed four earned runs on ten hits over 6.1 innings in the win, striking out one and walking four.
Offense was slightly harder to come by for Columbia in game two against the Generals of LSU-Alexandria. Both teams were scoreless through the first three innings before the Generals struck four three runs in the top of the fourth against Cougar starter Taylor Richter.
Trailing 3-0, Hayes doubled to start the bottom of the fifth inning and advanced to third on a single by Hardy to put runners on the corners with no one out. A bunt single by Maria Imhoff pushed Hayes across to cut the LSU lead to 3-1, followed by an RBI groundout from Crain to make the score 3-2. A walk to Veit put runners on first and third once again with two down, and Holmes would deliver her fourth two-out RBI of the day with a single to center, tying the game at 3-3.
After a scoreless top of the sixth for the Generals, Howell doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning and advanced to third with one out in the frame. Imhoff picked up her second RBI single in as many innings on a base hit to center, with Hardy going from first to third on the play. After a groundout by Brueggeman, Crain again delivered with a two-run double to center to put Columbia in front, 6-3.
Richter was able to work a scoreless seventh, despite loading the bases, to pick up the complete game victory. She allowed three runs on ten hits, while striking out six and walking three. Hayes and Imhoff each recorded two hits in the win and Crain finished with three RBI.
The Cougars will wrap up play Saturday when they face off against Mount Mercy (Iowa) University at 11:00 a.m., followed by a 1:00 p.m. matchup with William Jewell (Mo.) College. Both games will be played on the campus of Central Baptist University campus in Conway, Ark.