BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The College of Charleston softball team dropped a pair of back-and-forth games in a Southern Conference doubleheader against Samford at Bulldog field on Thursday evening. The Cougars held multiple leads in both games but ultimately fell by 12-8 and 4-3 totals.
CofC drops to 32-19 (11-11 SoCon) and saw its seven-game conference win streak snapped with the losses. Samford improves to 13-37 (9-14 SoCon) with Thursday's results.
The teams will play the series conclusion on Friday, May 6 at 3 p.m. EST.
Despite the losses, CofC hit .361 as a team on the day and recorded 22 hits, one more than Samford. The Cougars were doomed by 17 runners left on base, however.
Lizzy Vaughn (Placerville, Calif.) batted .750 (6-for-8) on the day with an RBI and a pair of doubles. Katie Nutaitis (Vienna, Va.) was 3-for-6 and drove in three RBIs. Katie Forbes (Odessa, Fla.) drove in three runs as well.
The Cougars were rejoined in the dugout for the first time by sophomore catcher Courtney Clark (Tampa, Fla.) thanks to the rehabilitation of athletic trainer Jason Allen. Clark did not see action, but was in uniform for the first time since breaking her hand against Georgetown on March 8.
GAME ONE: CofC: 8, Samford: 12
A seven-run Samford fifth inning doomed the Cougars in the opening game which saw 28 hits between the two teams. Forbes hit 4-for-5 in the opener with three RBIs in the Cougars' losing effort.
The Cougars took an early lead when they plated a run in their first three at bats of the game. Vaughn dropped a single in over the shortstop's head and moved up to second on a passed ball. Forbes then took her place at second with an RBI double down the right field line to put CofC out front, 1-0.
Samford had an immediate answer in the bottom half of the inning when Brianna Chambers drew a walk followed by singles by Robyn Harmon and Amanda Jordan to tie the game.
After a quiet second inning for both teams, CofC regained the lead with an offensive explosion in the third inning. By the time the dust settled, CofC had batted around, put seven consecutive hitters on base and plated five runs. Vaughn started the rally with a double off the fence in left center followed by Forbes' second RBI double of the gam, a line drive over the head of the shortstop and all the way to the fence in left center. Kelsey Hodgson (Woodstock, Ga.) then drew a walk before Katie Pesature (Brewster, N.Y.), Kristi Woodall (Huntersville, N.C.), Nutaitis and Kristy Giragosian (Charlotte, N.C.) all produced RBI singles to put CofC up 6-1.
The Bulldogs chipped into CofC's lead in their half of the third with a pair of infield singles followed by a home run towards the American flag in left center by Lakan Smith which cut the score to 6-4.
Nutaitis fouled off several pitches to extend her leadoff at bat in the fifth and draw an important walk for CofC. The Cougars then loaded the bases with a walk by Blakeney Sitton (Tucson, Ariz.) and single by Carly Corthell (Reno, Nev.) and the run was scored when Vaughn was hit by a pitch, putting CofC up 7-4.
The bottom of the fifth inning was unkind to CofC as a series of mishaps and fluke plays kept extending the inning until Samford managed seven runs on six hits and two CofC errors, making the score 11-7 Samford. The Cougars were a matter of inches away from escaping the inning on numerous occasions but could not get the calls or bounces they needed.
The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 12-7 in the following inning with a single and a walk leading to Alex Adams' RBI double down the left field line.
CofC added a run in the seventh when Corthell was hit by a pitch and Forbes later brought her home with an RBI single, her third RBI of the game.
GAME TWO: CofC: 3, Samford: 4
A late-inning push for Samford denied the Cougars victory in the second game as the Bulldogs plated a run in each of the final four innings to come from behind and steal game two. Vaughn was 3-for-4 in the night cap and Nutaitis was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.
The Cougars opened the scoring in game two as well with a two-run push in the top of the second. Hodgson led off with a single up the middle followed later by RBI doubles by Woodall - to score Hodgson and then by Nutaitis to score Woodall.
Samford didn't manage a hit until the fourth inning but tied the game with two swings of the bat via a pair of solo home runs by Jordan and Kayla Shaffer in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.
The Cougars regained the lead once again in the top of the sixth with a single up the middle by Pesature and a timely two-out RBI double into right center from Nutaitis' bat.
Samford refused to go away once again, however, and equalized in the bottom half of the inning when a double and a pair of walks - one of which was intentional - loaded the bases and Adams singled through the left side.
After keeping CofC off the board in the top of the seventh, the Bulldogs manufactured the winning run with a single, sacrifice bunt and game-winning RBI single back up the middle for Robyn Harmon.