By RAMA PEROO/Cowley College
Getting a pair of solid pitching performances and some timely hitting, the No. 16-ranked Cowley College softball team slipped past Neosho County in a doubleheader played Tuesday in Chanute, KS. The Lady Tigers won the opener 4-2 before taking game two by a score of 3-2.
Cowley (35-13) remains tied with Johnson County for first place in the Jayhawk Conference with a record of 19-1. Cowley will play its final home games of the season when they host Labette Community College in a doubleheader Friday at 2 p.m.
In Tuesday’s opener, the Panthers’ Carsyn McCue led off the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run to give Neosho the early lead. The homer for McCue was her fifth of the season.
Cowley would tie the game in the top half of the third inning as Laramie Neff walked, advanced to third on a single by Maci Cole, and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Shayne Roberts. Kyla Bonnarens followed with a long single to the wall, scoring Roberts with the go-ahead run.
After Cowley stranded a pair of baserunners in the top of the fourth, Lady Tiger starting pitcher Saige Smith walked the first two batters in the bottom of the fourth, leading to Neosho plating the tying run before Smith was able to prevent further damage.
The score would remain tied until the top of the seventh inning when Neff singled home Kaitlynn Anderson and a single by Roberts plated Cole with an insurance run.
The Panthers would put the leadoff batter on base in the bottom of the seventh, but Smith would work around it by retiring the next three batters to preserve the 4-2 victory. Smith struck out 13, allowing only five hits and one earned run while going the distance on the mound.
Lauren Fuller took the loss for the Panthers, allowing seven hits and four runs in seven innings.
Cowley would rally from a 2-0 deficit in game two as they scratched across a run in the top of the fifth inning and tied the game at 2-2 on a solo home run by Bonnarens leading off the sixth. Later in the inning, a two-out error by the Panthers allowed McKinzi Sowles to score the go-ahead run.
Freshman Jaala Nowlin went the first six innings, striking out six and allowed seven hits and two runs. Smith returned to pitch the seventh and struck out the side as Cowley won for the 31st time in its past 33 games.
“I thought both Saige and Jaala were very competitive and kept us in the tight games,” Cowley head coach Jenny Hoyt said. “Jaala worked her way out of a couple of jams when they had runners in scoring position.”
Neosho pitcher Logan Cates was the tough luck loser in game two as she allowed five hits and two earned runs in seven innings.
“We didn’t make the adjustments we needed to off their pitching; however, we fought hard until the end to get a timely hit when needed,” Hoyt said.
With at least a share of the conference title on the line, Cowley hosts a Labette squad Friday that is 24-16 overall and in third place in the conference with a record of 14-6.
“Labette always plays us tough. They will be competitive, and score runs,” Hoyt said. “We just have to manage the pressure they apply and offensively control the game.”
Score by inning:
Game one R H E
Cowley 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 – 4 7 1
Neosho 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 – 2 2 1
Game two R H E
Cowley 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 – 3 5 0
Neosho 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 – 2 7 2