The Columbia College softball team is among the best in the NAIA at No. 12 in the nation. Upper-level competition can’t even slow them.
The Cougars prevailed Monday in their final home game, earning a 7-1 victory against Central Missouri State, a NCAA Division II school.
The second game of the doubleheader was canceled because of rain.
“CMSU is always a good, strong opponent for us,” coach Wendy Spratt said. “We play each other this late in the year every season as a tune-up for our conference tournaments because we know we give each other a good game.”
Senior Monica Mueller (25-8) pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts, allowing five hits.
It was the 11th consecutive win for the Cougars (40-15, 13-1 American Midwest Conference), who have won 15 of their past 16.
“We’ve been building momentum for the last couple of weeks and are really coming on strong,” Spratt said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time and are really ready to go for tournament time.”
CMSU swept the Cougars in last season’s doubleheader 1-0 and 3-0. The most recent time the Cougars beat the Jennies was in 2000.
CMSU scored the first run in the third inning, but the Cougars struck back in the fourth.
Moreau led off with a double to center field. She advanced to third on a single by Felisha Richards and scored freshman third baseman Katie McMahon’s squeeze bunt.
McMahon reached first base safely and advanced Richards to second. Then, sophomore Amanda Hodges’s single loaded the bases for freshman centerfielder Lindsey Williams, who doubled to left field, driving in the three runs.
The bats stayed lively as sophomore shortstop Ashley Perrigo drove in Williams with a single.
The Cougars sent 12 batters to the plate, recorded seven hits, scored six runs, and claimed an insurmountable lead.
Kerri Gapka, who was slated to start the second game, didn’t get to on senior day.
Spratt said that she was disappointed Gapka didn’t get to start during her last day at the field, but the weather didn’t deter Gapka from throwing one last pitch from the Cougars’ mound.
Her arm was warm for the second game, so she took it upon herself to make the day memorable.
Gapka and Moreau, her catcher, took the field. Another teammate stood at the plate and Gapka threw a fastball and the batter swung and missed.
“I’m pretty bummed out I didn’t get to pitch that last game,” Gapka said. “But we couldn’t have asked for a better win for our final home game.”
The Cougars will go into the AMC Tournament as the No. 1 seed; the pairings have not yet been announced.