Russell, Columbus State Shut Down Top-Seeded Pirates; Advance to Title Game
COLUMBUS, GA – Mollie Russell pitched a complete-game four-hitter and the Columbus State offense put up five runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 6-0 win over top-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State in the second semifinal of the PBC Tournament. Columbus State advances to the championship game at 4:00 on Sunday to take on North Georgia.
The Cougars (38-18) did all their damage in the explosive fourth, starting the inning with four straight hits. Casey Googe started the attack with a double and then scored as Kara Gordon singled. That was followed by a single from Morgan Staffins, who went all the way to third on a throwing error as Gordon scored. Kori Waugh then doubled to left, scoring staffins.
That was enough to chase Armstrong starter Celia Blome (L, 3-3) who did not get an out in the foruth and was charged with four earned runs. Blome was replaced by PBC Pitcher of the Year Megan Barnwell, who gave up the fifth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice from Branigan Wix.
That was more than enough run support for Russell (W, 19-10) who needed only 82 pitches, 68 of them for strikes, to finish the game. Russell struck out seven without issuing a walk and retired nine in a row at one point before the Pirates got a baserunner on the lone CSU error of the game. She never allowed more than one hit in any inning and Armstrong only had a baserunner reach second base once.
Columbus State capped the scoring in the seventh inning as Morgan Staffins launched a line drive solo home run that bounced off the top of the center field wall. Staffins finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Waugh and Turner also had two hits each for Columbus State.
No Pirate had more than one hit in the contest as Shelby Duff, April Jowers, Ashley Buckett and Blome each had one. Blome was the only Armstrong player with an extra base hit as she doubled with two outs in the seventh but was stranded on base.
CSU returns to the championship game for the first time since 2007 when they completed a run of three straight tournament titles. North Georgia is seeking their fourth straight PBC title.