In its final home series of the season, Columbia College softball took home the American Midwest Conference regular season title. The Cougars swept Missouri Baptist, winning 7-1 and 7-2.
The wind seemed to favor the hitters in Game 1 as Columbia registered 10 hits while the Spartans had seven. The Cougars scored at least one run in all but the fifth inning.
Columbia scored its first run in the bottom of the first on Emily King’s sacrifice fly to right field.
In the second, the Cougars scored two runs on two hits and one error.
With two outs, Abigail Pringer clobbered a triple to the wall in right-center, sending home a run.
“That triple for Abby (Pringer) was phenomenal, opposite-field and she crushed it,” Columbia coach Wendy Spratt said. “She doesn’t hit to the opposite field very often. She really went with the pitch and did an amazing job. Her speed sent her to third.”
After Pringer’s at-bat, Columbia scored again. Jacey Meyer reached first and sent Pringer home after Missouri Baptist shortstop Ellie Wessel made an errant throw to first.
An inning later the Cougars added one more run to their lead. The Spartans thought they had the final out, but Karolina Arbova beat the throw, sending home Columbia’s fourth run.
Just as Arbova did with two outs, Mackenzie Kasarda beat the throw from a Missouri Baptist fielder and drove a run home in the fourth.
Two innings later, the Cougars notched their final two runs.
Kasarda smacked the ball to right field, reaching second and sending a run home after Missouri Baptist right fielder Sydney Berry was unable to make the catch.
After driving home Columbia’s first run, King knocked in the Cougars’ final run on an RBI single to shallow right. Kasarda sprinted home from second on the play.
Offensively, Kasarda led the way for Columbia, going 3 for 3 at the plate with 2 RBIs and scoring twice.
“I thought she did a great job, she’s very focused,” Spratt said. “She has definitely been improving and gaining confidence all season. She’s been our three-hitter for a long time. We needed somebody to go into that two-hole and put down a bunt. She does that exceptionally well.”
In the circle, Lexi Dickerson was credited with the win for the Cougars, moving her to 8-3. The senior pitched six innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out four.
While Columbia cruised to a win in Game 1, its second game was a close matchup until the fifth inning.
Cougars starter Ella Schouten began with two straight three up, three down innings. In those two innings, Schouten struck out four batters, all while swinging.
The third inning was a shaky frame for Schouten, though. After walking the first Spartans’ batter, then allowing a bunt single to the second hitter, Schouten gave up two runs on a Berry double to deep right-center.
Following Berry’s double, Columbia made three straight outs, two from Schouten striking out Missouri Baptist hitters.
Schotuen was in cruise control for the rest of her outing.
In her final three innings, Schouten walked one batter and allowed one hit while striking out four hitters. The freshman struck out the side in the fifth.
Overall, Schouten pitched six innings allowing one earned run on two hits and two walks while striking out 10 batters.
“(Schouten) did a nice job,” Spratt said. “Obviously, we don’t want to give up any runs but I felt really, really good. After she gave up two runs, she hunkered down and definitely controlled (the Spartans) lineup after that.”
After tying the game up in the fourth on Avgustina Arbova’s two-RBI single, the Cougars took the lead in the fifth.
The first two runs in the fifth came during Athena Wheeler’s at-bat when Missouri Baptist pitcher Haley Tate overthrew to first.
Karolina Arbova was next and sent Wheeler home on her RBI triple to the wall in right.
Following her sister’s at-bat, Avgustina Arbova drove in Columbia’s final run in the fifth, hitting to left-center for a single.
The Cougars scored their seventh run in the sixth on Kasarda’s sacrifice fly to right.
Columbia continued its undefeated run in conference play, winning its 37th straight. The streak began on April 19, 2019, when the Cougars defeated Central Baptist 6-5.
“We’re not done, we have two games left,” Spratt said. “We want to win out, give it everything we got. It was great to do that (win) on Senior Day. I have eight seniors that are phenomenal athletes that have really brought a lot to our program and it was great to honor them.”