COLUMBUS, GA – Tournament Most Valuable Player Mollie Russell allowed only one hit and one unearned run while Casey Googe bashed a three-run home run to lead the fifth-seeded Columbus State Cougars to a 4-1 win over North Georgia in the championship game of the PBC softball tournament on Sunday. The win gives Columbus State (39-18) their first tournament title since 2007 and the PBC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament. North Georgia (45-8) will be one of the two host sites for the NCAA Tournament when the fields are released on April 30.
Russell, who pitched a four-hit shutout earlier in the day in CSU’s semifinal win over Armstrong, finished the tournament with 21 innings pitched and a 0.00 ERA with only two unearned runs allowed. The junior hurler limited North Georgia to only two base runners in the first three innings, both of those coming with second-inning walks.
After being held to only one runner in the first two innings by North Georgia starter Jessica Coan (L, 23-7), Columbus State broke through in the third. Kristen Gregory began with a single to right, CSU’s first hit of the game, and then stole second. Morgan Knight drew a two-out walk to set the stage for Googe.
After sending a long foul ball out to left field, the sophomore took the 2-2 pitch from Coan over the center field wall, making the score 3-0. Googe set the PBC single-season home run record with that blast, her 21st of the year and second of the PBC Tournament.
CSU added another run in the fourth as Kori Waugh led off with a double and later scored on Taylor Turner’s RBI single up the middle. The Cougars threatened to put more runs with two more hits in the inning, but the North Georgia defense solidified to end the threat.
North Georgia responded in the fourth as Karlie Gilliam finally got to Russell with a base hit. A walk to Katherine Martin and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with one out. Russell struck out Sarah Johnson and got Kayla Minger to ground out to second to end the inning.
The Saints, winners of the last three PBC Tournaments, pushed across their only run of the game in the seventh. Russell issued back-to-back walks to Martin and Johnson, the both moved to second and third on a wild pitch. Martin then scored on a passed ball. With no outs, Russell retired the final three Saints with two ground outs and a foul out to secure the title.
Googe was the only player in the game to finish with more than one hit as she went 2-for-4 with the three RBIs. Turner added the other run as she went 1-for-3.
The Championship is the fourth for Columbus State, the first since three wins in a row from 2005-07. CSU becomes the first #5-seed to win the PBC Softball Tournament.
Shelby Duff, Armstrong
April Jowers, Armstrong
Kaitlyn White, USC Aiken
India Kornegay, USC Aiken
Melissa Dickie, North Georgia
Hilary Cox, North Georgia
Tiffanie Burns, North Georgia
Casey Googe, Columbus State
Taylor Turner, Columbus State
Tournament Most Valuable Player
Mollie Russell, Columbus State