By Matt Green
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Shorter softball team extended its winning streak to 10 games with a sweep of Gulf South Conference rival Christian Brothers in Memphis on Saturday afternoon. Game scores were 7-1 and 10-0.
The pair of wins improves the Lady Hawks to 11-1 overall and 2-0 in the GSC. The Bucs fall to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
In the opener, Jackie Castaneda drove in three runs, Kayla Cooper went a perfect 3-for-3 with three runs and a trio of doubles and Christina Ezell fanned eight in a complete game effort as Shorter topped CBU 7-1.
Shorter built an early 3-0 lead on the shoulders of a pair of Castaneda RBI singles in the first and third innings. Cooper set the table for the Lady Hawks in both frames, first with a leadoff walk in the first that led to her plating the first run on a wild pitch, then later in the third with a leadoff double that put Cooper in scoring position for Castaneda.
Christian Brothers got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, manufacturing a run with two outs thanks to a two-out double from Taylor Rosa-Romon and an RBI single from Jennifer Gonzalez, but that was the last threat Ezell would surrender to the Bucs. Ezell allowed just three hits to Christian Brothers over the final four innings.
Shorter put the game away with a three-run fifth. Cooper again ignited the scoring with her second double of the game, followed two batters later by Castaneda's RBI double to make it 4-1. Bre Johnson added an RBI single and Janell Echols an RBI groundout to extend Shorter's lead to 6-1.
Cooper's final double of the game scored Kelly Stone in the sixth and accounted for the final 7-1 margin.
The Lady Hawks racked up 11 hits in the Game 1 win. Shorter's top four batters – Cooper, Felicia Morris, Castaneda and Johnson – combined to go 8-for-14 with five RBI.
Ezell improved to 4-1 on the season after scattering seven hits and allowing the one earned run. The eight strikeouts give her 40 through 30.2 innings this year.
In the nightcap, Kendall Johnson's five RBI explosion spurred the Lady Hawks to a 10-0 victory over CBU.
Johnson came a single away from the cycle in her 3-for-3 effort. She cranked a solo homer, her second of the season, to lead off the Shorter third and start the scoring in Game 2.
She added a two-run triple in the fourth that made it 4-0 in favor of the Lady Hawks, then stroked a two-run double as part of a six-run Shorter fifth that put the run rule into effect.
The 10 runs were plenty for Shorter as Maddie Bray controlled matters defensively for Shorter, pitching a three-hit, five-inning shutout for her third win of the season.
Bray, a sophomore that was named the NAIA Softball National Championship MVP during Shorter's national title run last season, struck out three and walked just two. She ran into trouble just once, allowing runners to reach second and third with just one out, but got Amy Garcia swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the frame's second out, then put out the fire by forcing Sammi Canizaro into an inning-ending ground out back to the circle.
Shorter answered the CBU threat by unleashing its six-run inning moments later.
The Lady Hawks sent 10 batters to the box in the inning. Amanda Dailey ignited the scoring with a two-run single that plated Sarah Corn and Castaneda and made it 6-0. The lead ballooned to 7-0 on Gracie Ayers' RBI double several batters later, Johnson's aforementioned double pushed the lead to 9-0 and Cooper capped the scoring with an RBI single that scored Johnson.
Cooper continued right where she left off in Game 1 going 2-for-4 in Game 2. Eight of the 10 Lady Hawks who recorded an at-bat had at least one hit in the series finale.
Shorter continues GSC play tomorrow, Sunday, March 3, with a doubleheader against Delta State in Cleveland, Ga. First pitch in Game 1 of the series with the Statesmen is set for 2 pm ET.