Grand Slam Sparks CSU Win in Softball Opener

Sophomore left fielder Allison Paul got the Columbus State season off to a big start, slugging a fifth-inning grand slam to send the Lady Cougars to a 9-1 win in the opening game of a double header with Valdosta State.

The Lady Blazers, however, turned the tables in the nightcap, collecting 20 hits in a 16-3 win to earn a split in the VSU debut of head coach Thomas Macera.

CSU pitcher Stasha Morton helped herself at the plate in game one, bashing a two-run home run to right field in the third inning to give the Lady Cougars a 2-0 lead. Erin Brown plated a pair of runs in the fourth with a triple, scoring Danielle Aszman and Tamela Bell to put CSU up 4-0.

Valdosta State tallied its only run in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of a CSU error. Caroline Cripe led off with a single and on Trele Edwards' sacrifice, moved to second was awarded a trip home as the errant throw went into the VSU dugout. Becca Aszman ended the VSU threat by grounding into a double play that went pitcher to first to home to cut down Edwards trying to score.

The CSU fifth inning began with a Morton single, followed by a single off the bat of Randi Rainwater. After Amber Lanier fouled out, Bell laced a single down the left field line to score Morton and advanced to second on the throw. Danielle Aszman then slapped an infield single to third to load the bases and Paul launched her game-ending homer to left field.

Morton allowed just two hits and no earned runs to earn the win. She fanned three and allowed one walk. Liz Hall suffered the loss, allowing 13 hits and nine earned runs with two strikeouts.

Aszman led CSU with three hits, while Morton and Carrie Mills collected two each. Everyone in the Lady Cougar lineup had at least one hit. Cripe and Becca Aszman had the two hits for VSU.

The Lady Blazers scored in each of the five innings in game two to win going away. VSU tallied four runs in the first inning and five in the second to cruise to the win. CSU plated three runs in the bottom of the first to pull within one, but VSU hurler Allison McKean settled down and did not allow another run the rest of the way.

Amy Gaiss launced a two-run homer deep to left field in the third inning, and Robin Williams blasted a two-run shot in the fourth in the 20-hit bat-fest for VSU. Williams led the attack with four hits and four RBI, while Holly Willis, Cripe, Edwards, and Melissa Santana each had three hits. Gaiss had a pair of hits. Willis and Gaiss had three RBI each.

McKean walked three hitters -- all in the first inning -- and struck out one in taking her first win of the season. She allowed just two hits after the first inning and five overall. Rainwater started for CSU and gave up nine hits in 2.2 innings. She allowed 11 runs, only four of which were earned, and fanned one. Megan Sherwood finished for CSU, allowing five earned runs with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings of work.

Five different players had single hits for CSU in the game. Junior Amber Lanier saw her 17 game hitting streak come to an end in game two, going 0-1 with a walk.

CSU is next in action at the Georgia College & State University Invitational in Milledgeville on February 10-11. The Lady Cougars return home to open Peach Belt Conference play on February 14 with a 3 p.m. twinbill against Armstrong Atlantic State.