DAHLONEGA, Ga.- The Coker softball team battled the Royals of Queens (N.C.) in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Region I, resulting in a 2-0 victory for the Cobras. All three of Coker's wins over the Royals have been shutouts.
The top of the first started with a defensive gem from Brianna Strickland to save a run from scoring. After a single with Royals on first and second, the lead runner attempted to score, but Strickland timed a throw from right field to the plate perfectly, giving catcher Makayla Shore enough time to apply the tag on the slide.
In the offensive half of the inning for the Cobras, the Queens (N.C.) pitcher threw back-to-back four-pitch walks to Anna Gluhosky and Kelsi Bachmann. A single through the left side from Maria Williamson loaded the bases with no outs. Two batters later, Shore knocked a sacrifice fly to the centerfielder to allow Gluhosky to plate the first run of the game.
Pitcher Christine Carver had the Royals's number in the top of the second, striking out the side, recording four-straight strikeouts.
Once again, Strickland made an incredible defensive grab in right field to start the third. She reached over her head at the warning track to catch a flyball, making the commentators do a double-take. The third out of the inning was yet another strikeout from Carver, her fifth of the game.
A two-hour and 13-minute weather delay extended the game in the bottom of the third, but the Cobras stood strong. Before lightning struck, Coker added on another run. Williamson doubled to right center and Hannah Price followed up with one of her own off of the left field wall to score Williamson easily.
Taylor Forehand entered in the top of the fourth to shutdown the Royals for her fourth save of the season.
The Coker defense ended the game in style, a textbook 4-6-3 double play and a swinging strikeout clinched the victory.
The combination of Carver (19-7, 1.68 ERA) and Forehand (8-5, 2.34 ERA) resulted in eight strikeouts and just three hits on only 86 pitches.
The Navy and Gold will take on the No. 1 North Georgia Nighthawks in the semifinals on Friday, May 11 at noon.