MAYFIELD, Ky. – Courtney Maynard retired the first 11 batters she faced and struck out a career-high eight batters and Heather James homered for the third time this season to lead Cumberland University to a pair of victories and completing the season sweep of Mid-Continent University, taking a 7-2 victory in the opener and an 8-0 win in the nightcap, Tuesday at Cougar Field.
Cumberland (28-22, 17-13 TranSouth Conference) remains in a tight battle for third place in the TranSouth, sitting in a tie with Freed-Hardeman University, 11 games behind league-leading Trevecca Nazarene. The Bulldogs have just two conference games left – hosting Union University next Monday – while FHU is 14-10 in the league with eight league contests remaining on the schedule.
Four Bulldogs – Megan Lavery, CaSarah Gilliam, Allison Blackwood and Sarah Murray – all went 4-for-8 in the doubleheader leading an offensive attack that totaled 22 base hits, including nine going for extra bases.
The first double of the day came from James in the second inning, moving Murray to third after the CU second baseman reached on an error to lead off the frame. Meghan White followed with an RBI triple and, after a sacrifice bunt by Caity Gray, Gilliam cleared the bases with a triple over the head of left fielder Lisa Szatkowski.
CU’s next run came in the fourth inning with James’ leadoff home run, marking the fifth time this year that a Bulldog has led off an inning with a long ball.
An error led to Mid-Continent’s first run as the Cougars broke up the shutout in the fourth inning after a leadoff double. However, Blackwood minimized the damage in the inning by striking out the side. The Leoma, Tenn., native totaled six strikeouts, setting a new season-high.
Cumberland tacked on single runs in the fifth and sixth innings, both coming with two outs. In the fifth Lavery and Murray delivered back-to-back singles to score. Lavery was on second before Murray’s hit after stealing the base.
Gilliam singled and stole second in the sixth before Blackwood produced her third career triple to drive in her team-leading 40th RBI. The sophomore added one more RBI in the second game of the doubleheader.
Blackwood (13-11) picked up the win, tossing her 13th complete game of the year, scattering seven hits.
Cumberland 8, Mid-Continent 0 (Game 2)
Maynard struck out four batters, induced five ground-ball outs and a pair of pop outs before MCU got its first hit in the fourth inning on an infield single that went off the glove of a diving Stephanie Gutierrez.
The freshman, who improved to 12-8 with the complete-game shutout, struck out four more down the stretch and allowed five hits, and only one batter reached third base against Maynard.
The Bulldogs struck for five runs in the first inning, sending all nine batters to the plate. Victoria Bennett was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch before coming home on Blackwood’s single. Gutierrez followed with a grounder that couldn’t be handled by shortstop Lindsey Speed and Lavery loaded the bases with a single. Murray drove in all three runs with a double off the wall that just missed being a home run by a few feet. Gray singled to right field to bring in Murray and making the CU lead 5-0 before Mid-Continent touched a bat.
The Bulldogs added another unearned run in the second inning after Gilliam led off with a single and was moved to second on a sac bunt by Bennett before scoring when Blackwood belted a grounder that Amanda Hostettler misplayed.
CU added additional runs in the fifth and seventh innings, both coming after doubles. Lavery’s two bagger in the fifth came with two outs and Murray plated the run with a single up the middle. Murray totaled five RBIs in the two games.
In the seventh, Blackwood led off with a double of her own and came home on another two-base hit from Lavery.
Cumberland steps out of conference play Thursday, traveling to Campbellsville University.