Kennesaw State pitcher Amanda Henderson (6-4) struck out a career-high 16 batters in Game 2, and the Owls (15-12) took advantage of two Georgia State errors in the fourth inning to get the win. Game 1 saw the Panthers (20-7) capitalize on five hits and a walk to score three in the fourth to log the victory.
“I think both teams played really hard for 14 innings,” Kennesaw State coach Scott Whitlock said. “I have to give Georgia State and their coaching staff a lot of credit. They’re a good team.
“We had one tough inning on the mound in that first game, but other than that, I think we pitched really well and played pretty good defense.”
Jessica Cross, who batted 2-for-3 in Game 2, led off the fourth with a single. Sharon Swanson then reached on an error that moved pinch-runner Kierra Coln, who was in for Cross, to second. Bianca Durant’s fielder’s choice pushed Coln to third, and Coln soon plated the first run of the game on Brittany Moore’s fielder’s choice.
Georgia State’s play to get Coln out at the plate sailed high, allowing Durant and Moore to advance to third and second, respectively. Lindsay Vollmer, who batted 2-for-3, then hit a two-run single up the middle to plate Durant and Moore for the 3-0 edge.
The Owls nearly added to their lead with two outs in the sixth, loading the bases on a walk from Moore, single from Vollmer and a walk from former Kennesaw Mountain standout Kaylee Williams. However, Georgia State reliever Kaitlyn Medlam induced a strikeout and left the bases loaded to end the inning.
Henderson pitched out of several jams throughout the contest, and ended all but the one in the fifth inning with a strikeout. She stranded two runners in the second, one in the third, two runners in the fourth and fifth and the bases loaded in the seventh.
Henderson was especially effective in the late innings. After allowing a leadoff walk to Maddy Stanton in the fifth and a double to Brenna Morrissey, who was 3-for-4 with a RBI in the contest, Henderson struck out two in a row and forced a flyout to center on the Panthers’ cleanup hitter, Paige Nowacki, to end the threat.
Georgia State pinch-hitter Cassie Boese led off the seventh with a single and scored on Morrissey’s one-out double to trim the Owls’ lead to 3-1. Jessica Clifton reached on an error that moved Morrissey to third, but Henderson struck out the final two batters to end the game.
“I can’t say enough about Amanda,” Whitlock said. “She had a great game. She got into some trouble a few times but then her focus went up a notch and she got out of it.”
Kennesaw State scored first in Game 1 for a 1-0 lead. Moore, who batted 2-for-3, hit a one-out single in the second, moved to second on a passed ball and scored off an error during Williams’ at-bat.
Georgia State answered with three runs in the fourth off five hits and a walk. After Jessica Clinton’s leadoff homer tied the contest, former McEachearn star Lauren Coleman and Nowacki hit back-to-back singles. Callie Alford’s double then plated pinch-runner Boese, who was in for Coleman, and Nowacki for a 3-1 Panthers advantage.
After Audrey Mason, a North Cobb product, walked, Abbey Mixon came on in relief of Cross to get the final three outs while not allowing another run.
Mixon went on to give up one hit and struck out five in four innings of relief.
Georgia State pitcher Alana Thomas allowed one unearned run on five hits and struck out two for the Game 1 victory. She left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
McCall Langford took the loss in the nightcap, giving up three unearned runs on three hits in five innings.
Williams combined to go 0-for-4 with two walks for Kennesaw State.
Coleman was 1-for-5 for the Panthers, while Mason batted 1-for-5 with a walk. Former Kell standout Taylor Scarpantonio was 1-for-3 in Game 1.