COLUMBIA — The Columbia College softball team advanced to the semifinals of the American Midwest Conference tournament after defeating Missouri Baptist in both games of a doubleheader Friday at Cougar Softball Field, claiming the best-of-three series. The Cougars won 4-3 in both games of the doubleheader. Junior pitcher Valerie Teter earned two complete-game victories in one day.
The Cougars staved off a late-inning comeback attempt by the Spartans in the first game. After a bases-loaded walk in the third inning gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead, senior Krista Vlasak hit a three-run double to put the Cougars up 4-0. But the Spartans scored two unearned runs in the fourth inning, scored again in the seventh inning and had a runner on third base when Teter forced the next batter to pop out, giving the Cougars the win. Teter allowed three runs, none of which were earned, on two hits while striking out seven in her first victory of the day.
In the second game, the Spartans scored first on an errant throw to first by shortstop Tori Long, but the Cougars came back in the top of the fourth inning with Tori Gehlert and Chelsie Crain's RBIs as well as a throwing error that gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead.
But things became interesting in the seventh inning.
One inning after securing the school record for most strikeouts in a season, Teter saw her two-run lead disappear when she allowed a two-RBI single that tied the game at 3-3.
In the eighth inning, Rachel Coleman smacked a home run over the right-center field wall to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead.
"I wasn't even thinking about home run," Coleman said. "I was just thinking base hit. It just happened to turn into a home run."
Teter closed out the inning and the Cougars advanced to the next round. Teter finished with 10 strikeouts in the second game to push the Columbia College single-season strikeout record to 316. The previous record was Monica Mueller's mark of 310.
"I had no idea," Teter said of the record. "I didn't hear them announce it, and in the dugout, one of the girls gave me a high five and hugged me and said, 'Congratulations.' I'm like, 'For what?'."
The Cougars will take on the winner of the Harris-Stowe–William Woods series that starts on Tuesday. Cougars coach Wendy Spratt cautioned her team in making mistakes in the semifinals.
"We have to be much more prepared mentally," she said. "We have to score more runs earlier in the game, and we have to play better defense. But we'll be ready by Tuesday."