With darkness falling in the second game of a doubleheader vs. Cloud County Tuesday at Lady Tiger Field in Arkansas City, the umpires halted the game with the No. 2-ranked Cowley College softball team leading 7-6 after five innings of play. Since the game went at least five innings, the Lady Tigers were awarded the victory and a split of the doubleheader.
After losing the first game by a score of 3-2, Cowley was happy to salvage a split of the two games. The Lady Tigers are now 7-2 overall and 1-1 in the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division, while Cloud suffered its first loss of the season and is now 6-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
In game one, Cowley trailed 1-0 after five innings of play. The Lady Thunderbirds increased their lead to 3-0 by scoring two runs on three hits in the top of the sixth inning.
With two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the sixth inning, Cowley rallied against sophomore pitcher Kelsey Jones. Sarah Glass started the comeback with a single and scored the Lady Tigers' first run on a double by Rondeci Oliver.
First baseman Tiffany Isam then lofted a fly ball to left field, which should have been the final out of the inning, but Kylie Trobee dropped the ball, allowing Oliver to score from second.
Sophomore catcher Taylor Watham then came through with a double, putting runners at second and third with two outs. However, Jones got sophomore centerfielder Jordan Haya to strikeout to end the threat.
Jones worked around a one-out single by Stephanie Couser in the seventh inning as she recorded the win. Jones struck out nine and walked one.
Glass, Watham and Couser finished with two hits a piece.
Freshman catcher Ashley Johnson led the Lady Thunderbirds at the plate by going 3-for-3 with a run batted in.
Sophomore Jessica Seay (2-1) went the distance on the mound and allowed nine hits and three runs. She struck out seven and walked none.
"Jessica pitched well enough for us to win the game," Cowley head coach Ed Hargrove said.
In the nightcap, the teams were tied 3-3 after four innings. Lady Tiger starting pitcher Brooke Benge walked the first batter of the fifth inning and was relieved by freshman Taya Haney.
Haney allowed only one hit but back-to-back errors allowed the Lady Thunderbirds to score three runs in the inning.
Benge, who had not allowed a run over her first 16 innings pitched, was charged with five hits and three runs in four innings pitched. Only one of the three runs charged to Benge was earned.
"I thought Brooke threw well," Hargrove said.
Seven Lady Tiger errors on the day led to six unearned runs in the doubleheader.
Cloud returned the favor in the bottom of the fifth inning as a pair of Lady Thunderbird errors helped Cowley score four runs.
Following an RBI single by Glass, which cut Cloud's lead to 6-5, pinch runner Hope McLeod stole second and came around to score the tying run on an error on a ball hit by Caitlyn Cosme.
Another error on a ball hit by Jordan Haya put runners at first and third with only one out. Taya Haney's ground ball to the shortstop scored Cosme with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Haney earned the win in relief and is 2-1 on the season. Savanna Luke took the loss for Cloud County.
Hargrove was impressed with the team Cloud County has assembled.
"This is the best Cloud team I have seen in the last 15 years," Hargrove said. "They will be a player at the end of the season."
Freshman leftfielder Morgan Swisher led Cowley at the plate by going 3-for-3 with two stolen bases and a run scored.
Watham went 1-for-3 with a run batted in and a run scored and finished 3-for-6 in the doubleheader after starting the season in a 1-for-13 slump.
"I was proud of the way Taylor hit the ball and hope she is coming around to strengthen the bottom part of our lineup," Hargrove said.
Cowley will not return to action until Tuesday, March 4 when they play a doubleheader at Dodge City at 2 p.m. The Lady Conquistadors are currently 2-4 on the season.
"The time off will allow us to work on situations where we have got to get runners in from second and third base," Hargrove said.
Score by inning: Game one R H E Cloud 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 - 3 9 2 Cowley 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 - 2 8 2
Game two R H E Cloud 0 2 1 0 3 - 6 6 3 Cowley 0 3 0 0 4 - 7 7 5