STATESBORO, Ga. - The College of Charleston sparked a seventh-inning rally to take down the No. 2 seeded Appalachian State Mountaineers, 6-3, and advance in the Southern Conference Softball Championship at Eagle Field on the campus of Georgia Southern.
The Cougars will see UNC Greensboro in the losers' bracket finals on Friday at 11 a.m. with a trip to the championship game against Chattanooga at stake.
The game was plagued by a 2:37 rain delay but the Cougars stayed focused through it and sparked a three-run rally in their first at bat once the game was recommenced. Appalachian State eventually drew even but CofC tacked on three more in the seventh to come away with the win.
Kristy Giragosian (Charlotte, N.C.) was 3-for-3 with three singles and a walk on the day with two RBIs in the seventh inning. Katie Nutaitis (Vienna, Va.) delivered the game winning RBI with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center field.
Stephanie Saylors (Easley, S.C.) picked up her third win of the tournament in pitching four innings and only allowing one run while striking out three.
"We feel fortunate, excited confident with our results over the past two days but we still have a job to do," said head coach Shelly Hoerner. "We're taking in the win and it's exciting and fun but our goal was to win this conference tournament and that's still ahead of us.
"We never give up on this team and we are relentless and continue to believe in ourselves and our purpose.
"Stephanie [Saylors] is pitching very well this week and I couldn't be more proud of her coming through for us in tough situations again and again. She stays composed and that is one of her strengths."
"Honestly, this team has come so far and I just did my part in what was a team effort," said Giragosian. "I just tried to see the ball, hit the ball and help the team.
"We stayed up and light hearted yet focused through the delay. We're quite the entertaining bunch and had a great time amongst ourselves with Cougar Karaoke and do-it-yourself PB&Js but never lost focus on what was truly important.
"This is great for us. This has been our goal all year and we're out here with nothing to lose and want to give everyone we face a run for their money."
The first two innings of the game were quiet until a storm surge took the area and forced the game into a lightning-induced weather delay lasting over two hours.
When the game resumed, the Mountaineers had runners on second and third with one out and a pair of walks plated the game's first run for the Mountaineers. The Cougars minimized the damage with a pair of great defensive plays to get out of the inning.
The Cougars responded immediately in the top of the fourth and sparked a two-out rally triggered by a single for Kristi Woodall (Huntersville, N.C.) and walks by Nutaitis and Giragosian to load the bases. Hillary Stringer (Summerville, S.C.) delivered a single to right center to plate two runs and Carly Corthell (Reno, Nev.) chopped one over the head of the third baseman to bring home another and give CofC a 3-1 lead.
Appalachian State claimed one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth inning with a pair of infield singles and an RBI through the left side of the infield by Megan Rembielak.
The Mountaineers knotted the game in the sixth inning with a pair of singles putting runners on first and third. Rembielak then bounced a ball off the plate and straight up into the air but high enough to allow time for the tying run to cross the plate.
The Cougars exploited late-inning heroics once again in the top of the seventh inning with a timely game-winning rally. Katie Forbes (Odessa, Fla.) led off with a single to left field and Katie Pesature (Brewster, N.Y.) drew a one-out walk before Woodall singled to load the bases. Nutaitis delivered the eventual game-winning RBI with a sacrifice fly to deep center which advanced all base runners. Giragosian then singled to right to clear the bases and put CofC up 6-3, the eventual final.