Carson made the most of its extra opportunities and stunned Spanish Springs with a pair of come-from-behind victories, 6-3 and 5-4, in the Northern 4A softball twin bill.
“I thought Brette (Lawrence) pitched well enough to win both games. We didn’t play defense behind her in either game, and that’s what cost us the games,” SSHS softball coach Jeff Davidson said. “Carson has a lot of good hitters, but if we just field the ball that first game, they don’t have that big inning and we win. In the second game, we had a double play on a line drive and we throw that away. The next thing you know, they score a couple runs. You have to give credit to Carson. They took advantage of our mistakes.
“We hit the ball very well in the first and second game, but it just wasn’t enough. You can’t expect your pitcher to throw a perfect game.”
Spanish Springs looked poised to earn a split early on of the second game, jumping out to a 4-0 advantage through its first three trips to the plate.
The Cougars received a gift-wrapped two runs in the first when a fly ball in shallow right field was dropped with two outs, allowing Sidney Sinclair and Dani Smith to score after they had reached base on a walk and a single respectively.
Spanish Springs earned its run in the second as Gianna Schauer blasted a high pitch over the center-field fence for a solo homer, extending the lead to 3-0.
The Purple and White could have broken the game wide open in the top of the third. Carson starting pitcher Christa McGahuey loaded the bases by giving up singles to Brette Lawrence and Ally Batastini and a walk to Myrissa Prince.
But once the Senators brought in Lindsey Ashbaugh to pitch in the middle of the third with no outs, the Cougars’ bats did very little damage.
Ashbaugh induced a couple grounders to third that ended with outs being made at the plate. Spanish Springs was able to get one run across thanks to an infield error in between those fielder‘s choices, which made it a 4-0 game. However, Ashbaugh picked up a comebacker and ended the inning with the bases loaded full of Cougars.
Carson then got to work in its bid for a second comeback victory of the day. In the bottom of the third, Jen Purcell’s two-out base hit to shallow left field started the Senators’ first rally.
A walk put runners on first and second and Danielle Morrow came through with a shot to left field, scoring Purcell to cut the deficit to 4-1.
Carson’s big blow came in the fourth frame as eight Senators went to the plate during a game-tying rally.
Ellise McGowan led off the inning with a single. She moved up to second on a passed ball and went to third on a sacrifice bunt. That was also the second out.
So with two outs, pinch hitter Michelle Perry strolled up to the plate and blooped an RBI single just over second base.
Then Emily Collins singled to left and Purcell drove both runners home when she found the gap in right-center field for a two-run double, tying the game at 4-4.
The Senators took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth. McGowan made it to first on a fielder’s choice. SSHS pitcher Brette Lawrence hit the next batter and a Candise Tuttle bloop single on the right-field line loaded up the bases for No. 9 hitter Skylar Jones. Jones lifted a fly ball to right field that was deep enough to score McGowan from third, giving the hosts a 5-4 lead that Ashbaugh protected.
Ashbaugh pitched five innings of no-run ball for the victory. She gave up four hits and walked none. She struck out one, but fielded her position well four times, including a string of three straight come backers in the sixth inning.
Lawrence went the distance for the Cougars in both games, picking up both pitching losses.
In the opener, Lawrence allowed six runs — none of them earned — on six hits. She finished with five strikeouts and zero walks. She was not as sharp in the second game, giving up five earned runs on nine hits. She walked two, hit two and struck out five.
Batastini and Kayla Arterburn both went 2-for-4 in the nightcap, accounting for half the Cougars’ eight hits.
Purcell was 2-for-4 for the Senators with a double and single, while Ashbaugh added a couple hits in her 2-for-3 performance, helping their team overcome five errors on defense to win.
In the morning game, Carson again erased a Spanish Springs lead after the victors tallied two unearned runs in the top of the third.
The Senators got all the offense they needed, posting a six spot in the bottom of the fifth thanks in part to defensive miscues by the Cougs.
After the Senators took a 3-2 lead, McGahuey helped her cause by belting a two-run double down the left field line, increasing her team’s advantage to 5-2. Jones came in to pinch run and Morrow traded places with her when she laced a double to the fence, padding the Carson cushion to 6-2.
Spanish Springs had a little life left. Batastini crushed an 0-2 McGahuey offering over the left-field fence for a bases-empty home run, accounting for the final 6-3 margin. But of the two games, that was the only run the Cougars scored after the third.
“Our goal was to stay aggressive the whole game, but again we left a ton of runners on base,” Davidson said. “We just can’t get that key hit to break it open. The second game, we had bases loaded with no outs and we were already up. A hit or two there, and it’s a different game. If you let a good team hang around in the game, they come back and take advantage.”
McGahuey threw all seven innings, scattering eight hits that led to one earned run. She walked three and did not have a strikeout.
Lawrence did her best to keep the Cougars from losing their first league game. The junior was 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and two singles. In Game 1, McGowan was the lone Senator to have more than one hit, rapping out a double and single.
Spanish Springs (13-4, 10-2 in Northern 4A) lost leadoff hitter and center fielder Bella Rovens in the last inning of the first game when she rolled her ankle after stepping on first base awkwardly.
The Cougars are off until Friday and will open the annual Reed tournament against Fernley.