COLUMBIA — Because of several postponements due to poor weather, the Columbia College softball team did not play its home opener until Friday afternoon. It was the longest the team had gone without playing its first home game in program history.
Apparently, good things really do come to those who wait.
The Cougars, ranked No. 16 in the NAIA, swept Harris-Stowe State in a doubleheader on Friday. Columbia College won the first game 4-0 and the second 9-1.
Senior Katie McMahon was the winning pitcher in game one, allowing just five hits while striking out five in the shutout. Freshman Valerie Teter pitched the second game, allowing one run and striking out eight.
“I didn’t really remember what they had from last year,” McMahon said. “I was just trying to go through it once and see what they had and then get them out after that.”
First baseman Rachel Brawner broke out of a slump by combining for six hits in the two games. She had two triples, a double, scored two runs and had an RBI.
“I got a new bat and decided to try that out,” Brawner said. “I felt like I was actually on top of my hitting today. I’m hoping it continues.”
The second game was almost cut short when Harris-Stowe third baseman Melissa Lombardo sustained a rotator cuff injury while in the field. Because Harris-Stowe was without outfielders Erica Anderson and Rhonda Chatman who were playing with the Harris-Stowe women’s basketball team in the NAIA National Tournament, the team did not have any bench players.
By rule, Harris-Stowe would have been forced to forfeit the game had Lombardo not been able to continue.
“The discussion was that she probably shouldn’t have been playing if she couldn’t feel three of her fingers,” Columbia College coach Wendy Spratt said. “Neurologically she couldn’t really throw or swing the bat.”
Instead of forfeiting, Harris-Stowe coach Tony Moody made the decision to move Lombardo to right field where she would be less likely to aggravate the injury.
Despite swinging her bat with only one hand after the injury, Lombardo hit a perfectly placed bunt down the first base line with a runner on third for Harris-Stowe’s only run of the day in the fourth inning.
Columbia College has now won eight games in a row and is 15-3 on the season. The games with Harris-Stowe were also Columbia College’s first two American Midwest Conference games of the season.
Next week Columbia College will travel to California to take on California Baptist, No. 1 in the NAIA, and Vanguard, No. 9.