MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – Senior slugger Kelsey Hodgson hit her CofC all-time record tying 42nd home run as the Cougars swept Towson by 3-1 and 13-3 totals in a Colonial Athletic Association doubleheader at Patriots Point on Friday evening to extend their winning streak to nine games and preserve their shot at a CAA regular season title.
CofC (39-14, 13-4 CAA) is currently on its third winning streak of eight or more games this season and eclipses the 37-win plateau for the first time since 2005. The Cougars and Tigers are set for the regular-season finale and CofC Senior Day on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Hodgson’s record-tying blast came in the first inning of game two and drew her level with a 10-year old record held by Amanda Cone (2001-04).
“I am honored to achieve this milestone which I’ve been working on for a long time,” said Hodgson, “so it’s exciting to make it happen. It was amazing to do it at home with my family here and I appreciate my teammates’ excitement and support.”
The Cougars, currently in second place in the league standings, need both a Cougar win and James Madison loss at UNC Wilmington on Sunday in order to leapfrog the Dukes and hoist the regular season crown and host next week’s CAA Championships.
One of two JMU wins on Saturday sured up the four-team field and clinched the No. 4 seed for Towson, with only seeding – and location – left to be determined.
“I thought our team came with a tremendous amount of energy today,” said head coach Linda Kalafatis. “I wasn’t happy with some of our at bats in the first game, but we ended on a good note. I challenged them to carry that into game two.
“It was great to see Kelsey get the record at home, and Padilla’s first career homer was exciting… I think we played hard and inspired tonight, and I look forward to how we show up tomorrow.”
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON: 3, TOWSON: 1 (Box Score)
In game one, neither team reached a base runner until Hodgson singled to lead off the second inning, and after a Carly Hansis walk moved Hodgson into scoring position, Maples singled through the right side of the infield to score Hodgson and birth the first run of the game.
The Cougars clung to the 1-0 lead as Klicker limited the Tigers to one hit until the sixth inning, at which point Hailey Balk singled through the right side to produce only the third Towson base runner. An uncharacteristic Cougar fielding error put two runners in scoring position, and Maureen Hepner lined out to right on an RBI sacrifice fly. The Cougar relay throw gunned down the trail runner who attempted to tag up as well, ending the inning.
The Cougars wasted no time retaking the lead in the next half inning with Maples providing a leadoff double and Padilla’s homerun carrying out of the park on a line drive to left for the 3-1 lead.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON: 13, TOWSON: 3 (5 inn.) (Box Score)
Hodgson’s historic trot around the bases provided the Cougars with a lead they’d only expand upon in game two, and it came after Corthell had drawn a one-out walk which allowed Hodgson to bat in the first inning from the four hole of the lineup. The blast came on a 2-0 pitch and left nothing in question the moment it left the bat as it hurried out to deep left center.
The Cougars took advantage of Tiger miscues to extend the lead in the second, as Padilla was hit by a pitch and worked her way around the bases on a pair of Towson errors.
Towson produced its first threat in the third inning after singles by Nicole Delgado and Balk put two runners on with two outs. Delgado then attempted to score on a single to left by Hepner, but a laser of a throw from left fielder Rebecca Mueller beat her to the plate where she was tagged out by Maples to end the inning.
Mueller backed up her display of arm strength with batting power in the next at bat as she led off the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run to right field to stretch the Cougar lead to 4-0. Hodgson drew a walk and Towson committed another fielding error to provide two more base runners, and Chandler Frisbie singled up the middle to plate a fifth run.
The Cougars utilized contagious hitting and opportunistic base running to blow the game open and enforce the run rule with eight runs on seven hits in the fourth. Corthell, Mueller, Hodgson, Valerie Cassell, Maples, Padilla, Maria Zavala and Lizzy Vaughn all reached base as the Cougars batted around in the frame (Corthell produced two singles in the fourth inning alone).
Every time a throw went to the plate or skipped a cutoff player, the Cougars would alertly move up a base to keep runners in scoring position and cycle around the bases during the inning.
The Tigers took three runs back on three hits and a Cougar error in the fifth, but would dip no further into the lead. Senior Jen Rosene earned an appearance in the pitching circle and got herself into trouble, but Cassell neutralized the threat to preserve the five-inning victory.