South Georgia’s Kathryn Dunn grabs hold of third-base as Darton’s Jordan Allen fields the throw Thursday afternoon at Darton. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)
ALBANY — Make no mistake about it – the Darton State College softball team would not have it any other way.
As the first-place team in their conference, the Lady Cavaliers know they have a target on their backs each time they take the field.
Thursday afternoon they showed how they respond to challengers by winning both games of a doubleheader against South Georgia State, bumping up their winning streak to six games.
“Toughness and understanding when you’re ranked in the country and at the top of the conference everybody’s going to play you a little harder than normal,” Darton head coach Eric Neel said when asked about his team’s success.
After narrowly escaping the Lady Hawks 7-6 in extra innings of Game 1, Darton breezed by South Georgia in Game 2, 9-1, after five innings. The wins added to an already impressive record as the Lady Cavaliers are now 32-10 and 9-1 in conference play.
“We want to win the region and the region tournament, and we want to go to Utah and see what we can do against the best teams in the country,” Neel said of the team’s goals. “I think we’ve worked hard so far to get that opportunity, but, like anything in life, nothing is promised passed the day. So we still have a lot of work to do.”
The Lady Cavaliers wasted no time in going to work in the second game, putting up a seven-spot in the bottom of the second inning. Jostlyn Higgerson began the scoring party with an RBI double. After Savannah Carlisle scored the team’s second run, Bree Wells came to the plate with the bases loaded and singled home Higgerson and Nicole McInerney, giving Darton a 4-0 lead.
Emily Church then doubled home Sierra Newman, and Jordan Allen’s triple scored Wells and Church. Darton tacked on another run the following inning when McInerney singled in Higgerson.
“We knew we had to jump on them quick because we have a tendency to let teams stick around,” Wells said. “So we were ready to jump on their pitchers.”
Carlisle, meanwhile, who took the mound for Darton in Game 2, did not allow the same thing to happen to her as she kept South Georgia’s scoring to a minimum.
“I feel like our team plays behind her differently than we do anyone else because she has this pitching mentality that I can’t even explain; she gets after it,” Wells said.
Carlisle also displayed her prowess at the plate as she knocked in the ninth and final run of the game to end it in five innings.
Game 1 was slightly longer than expected as the Lady Hawks rallied back to tie in the sixth inning after trailing 6-2.
“I think we just got a little cocky after we got a bunch of runs and let them come back,” Higgerson said. “But we prove ourselves over and over by fighting back until we get it done.”
Darton had a chance to finish the job in seven, but one of the Lady Cavaliers was doubled up to the end the inning. The team did not blow its second opportunity to win the game as the Lady Cavaliers scored the winning run in the eighth for a 7-6 finish.
Darton will finish its series with South Georgia a little less than two weeks away in Douglas.