The Cougars' offense got going quickly. Leadoff hitter Amanda Barham walked and SSHS No. 2 hitter Kelsie Merritt reached safely on an error. Brette Lawrence grounded out, but Ally Batastini stepped up next and crushed a triple to score both Barham and Merritt. Sadye Roulund followed with a run-scoring single and the SSHS squad had its early 3-0 advantage.
"We talked about wanting the girls to perform well and getting off to a good start," Spanish Springs coach Jeff Davidson said. "We wanted them to be aggressive early and they were. In that first inning we sent a bunch hitters to the plate and scored three runs. That was nice. We put some hits together and scored some runs."
Carson put up its only two runs in the top of the third inning. Senators No. 9 hitter Sara Brewer singled to start the frame. Bailey Allen got down a sacrifice bunt. Kandis Tuttle got on thanks to a Cougars error and then both Brewer and Tuttle circled the sacks after RBI singles by Jennifer Purcell and Rebecka Breuer.
Carson's rally trimmed the Spanish Springs lead to 3-2 but the guests could get no closer than that.
The win Thursday was a positive step forward for the Cougars after they dropped a pair of emotional conference clashes to arch rival Reed last weekend.
"It definitely was nice to get back," Lawrence said. "I hate having days off after a loss when you wait around to play another game. It felt better to be playing and get right back on track."
Spanish Springs (23-6, 10-4) added some insurance with two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to account for the final 6-2 margin.
In the Cougars' fourth, Sidney Sinclair walked and stole second. A Carson error on the throw down allowed Sinclair to scamper all the way to third. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Barham. Next, Merritt singled. She came plateward after two more singles, by Lawrence and Batastini.
The final SSHS run came when pinch hitter Megan Archer led off the bottom of the fifth and was hit by a pitch. It looked like she'd be stranded on the base paths after back-to-back flyouts by the Cougars. However, that wasn't the case. Bayley Broadwater reached on a Senators fielding miscue and that saw Archer race around to third. Another Carson error allowed Archer to race home.
Carson (9-20, 3-11) hurt its cause by committing four errors in defeat.
Lawrence picked up the win in the circle. She turned in a complete-game, scattering eight Carson hits. She gave up the two runs but just one was earned in the eight-strikeout, zero-walk outing.
"I felt pretty good about pitching today," Lawrence said. "I had pretty good command and the defense really helped me out. Changing speeds definitely helped a little bit but the riseball was my go-to pitch for the day."
Five different Cougars rapped out hits in the local school's 10-hit showing. Merritt knocked out three of those (3-for-4) while scoring twice. Lawrence and Batastini were both 2-for-4, while Roulund was 2-for-3. Myrissa Prince (1-3) had the other Cougar hit Thursday.
"I felt like we hit the ball pretty good," Prince said. "I think everyone was looking for their pitch to drive and had good approaches ... It was just good for us to get the win and get our confidence back up. It wasn't fun to have a couple days off but it was good. It gave us a chance to work on a few things we needed to work on, like our defense. We've got to tighten up our defense and not make as many errors. That keeps games closer for us."
Spanish Springs wraps up its regular season Saturday when it hosts North Valleys in a High Desert League doubleheader that begins at 10 a.m. The Cougars can clinch the HDL's second seed and a home playoff game in next week's Division I North regional tournament with a sweep. One or two losses could drop the perennial power Cougars, depending on the outcomes of other games in the North.
"These two games will be really important for seeding," said Lawrence, the Cougars' senior leader, who has signed to play her collegiate softball at Villanova. "We want to make sure we end on a high note going into regionals and to stay on track."
Davidson had similar sentiments.
"We'd like to go into regionals on a little streak," he said. "North Valleys is a good team. It will be tough for us on Saturday but we're looking forward to working hard on Friday in practice and getting after it. We'll see what happens."