NCAA Division II Softball Championship
Errors can make the difference in a game, and Saturday was no exception as Columbus State claimed two runs off a fourth-inning error to explode past Cal State Stanislaus 7-1 at the NCAA Division II Softball Championship in Akron, Ohio.
Stanislaus, who committed four errors in the game, finishes the year at 50-20, while Columbus State, despite stranding nine on the bases, moves to 57-4 and advanced to face Florida Southern in a game that has been moved to Sunday due to evening rain showers that pushed Saturday’s games back nearly two hours.
Columbus State struck in the top of the fourth as Ginny Walsh led off with a walk. CSUS starter Jessica Gaumnitz struck out Amber Lanier and got Brittany Leverett to pop out on the infield for the first two outs of the inning. She then issued back-to-back walks to Tamela Bell and Allison Paul.
Cassie Cooper then stepped to the plate and lifted a fly ball to right field that appeared to be the third out of the inning, but Warrior right fielder Alyssa Guzman got a late jump on the ball and had it deflect off the end of her glove, allowing Bell and Walsh to score.
Amber Browning received all the help she would need in the inning, as she went the distance and picked up the win to move to 26-2 after allowing a run on just two hits while striking out 10 and walking just one.
“I wanted to go out there and just try to keep the ball in the park,” Browning said. “I did that, and the strikeouts just happened.”
Stanislaus avenged the fourth-inning mishap by cutting the 2-0 edge in the bottom half of the frame. Rita Argott led off with a triple, and two batters later, Casey Stephenson drove a fly ball to right field that proved deep enough to score Argott from third.
“I don’t think anyone on our team is sad,” CSUS head coach Jan Schefkowicz said. “We came to compete, and play, and we did that.”
The Cougars immediately responded in a big way, scoring a pair of runs in each of their next two at-bats. With one out in the fifth, Ginny Walsh drove a pitch deep over the fence in left field. The next batter, Lanier, repeated the feat, driving a ball down the line in left that just snuck inside the foul pole.
“I feel like, for the first time since we’ve been in Ohio, we’ve hit the ball the way we’re capable of hitting,” CSU head coach Tiffany Tootle said.
Omaira Estremera relieved Gaumnitz following the two home runs and allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits over the final two and two-thirds innings. Gaumnitz finished the year 26-5 after surrendering four runs, only two earned, on four hits in the losing effort.
CSU padded the lead even more in the sixth. With one out, Cooper laid down a bunt that she beat to first base. She advanced to third on Mills’ single to first base, and then scored as Erin Brown singled to right.
Following a strikeout, Mills stole third base, and Walsh delivered her second big hit of the game, a two-out single to left that plated Mills and made it a 6-0 advantage.
The final run of the game came in the seventh as Bell singled and advanced to second on an error by Guzman. Paul followed and laid down a bunt that was thrown away at first, allowing pinch-runner Christie Thompson to score the final 7-1 margin.