Kennesaw State won the final two games of its three-game set with Jacksonville over the weekend to secure its first Atlantic Sun Conference series win of the season.
The Owls lost the first end of Saturday’s double-header, 1-0, in 11 innings, won game two, 5-4, and won Sunday’s rubber match, 7-1.
Junior Logan Viers (8-3) picked up her second save of the season in game two and her eighth win in game three. Viers appeared in all three games, pitching a collective 13.0 innings while surrendering seven hits and one earned run. Senior Morgan Sikes (7-3) picked up her seventh win in game two and third save in game three.
KSU has found arguably the most dangerous pitching duo in the A-Sun in Viers and Sikes. The two are a combined 15-6 this season while picking up five saves. Additionally, Sikes’ 1.74 ERA marks the second best in the conference, while Viers’ 1.86 ERA places her at fourth.
Neither squad could get a run on the board in Saturday’s game one. Tied 0-0 at the end of the seventh inning, the Owls and Dolphins were forced into extra innings in KSU’s first A-Sun Conference game of the season.
The Owls threatened to score in the top of the eleventh inning, but redshirt-junior Chandler Griffin was thrown out at home while attempting to give the Owls a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Jacksonville’s Heather Roberts notched a walk-off RBI single back to the pitcher to give the Dolphins the 1-0 victory.
KSU started game two as lethargic on offense as in game one and the Owls were retired in order in the first and second innings. Jacksonville took the lead in the bottom of the second with a sacrifice fly out that scored senior Victoria Brown.
In the top of the third inning, KSU’s bat came to life as senior Kara Chambers notched a two-RBI double to left field to give the Owls a 2-1 lead. On the ensuing at-bat, junior Taylor Denton singled home Chambers to extend the lead to 3-1. Senior Hillary Kartman capped off the scoring in the top of the frame with an RBI single, scoring Denton and putting KSU up 4-1.
The Dolphins cut their deficit to one run in the bottom of the third with an RBI double and an RBI single, respectively.
Griffin doubled up the middle in the top of the fourth inning to score Dennis and extend KSU’s lead to 5-3.
The Dolphins plated a run in the bottom of the seventh to pull within a run, but sophomore Kristin Griffith struck out looking with a runner on second base to end the game.
“It was great to see the kids bounce back and scratch out a win in the second game Saturday,” KSU head coach Tory Acheson told KSUOwls.com. “The first game was a heartbreaker. To say I’m proud of the fight they showed in game two is an understatement.”
The Owls carried the momentum from game two into Sunday’s rubber match as Chambers led off the game with a single, stole second, and later scored on an RBI single from redshirt-junior Courtney Sutter to put KSU up 1-0.
Roberts tied the game in the bottom of the first with a solo home run to dead center. It proved to be the only run of the game for the Dolphins.
The Owls strung together three consecutive singles in the top of the third inning to load the bases with one out. Senior Missy Perkowski singled to center field to plate a pair of runs and give the Owls a 3-1 lead.
With one out in the top of the seventh inning, sophomore Noelle Winkles and Chambers laid down back-to-back bunt singles. Denton followed with a single, advancing Winkles and Chambers to second and third and loading the bases. Sutter blasted a grand slam to right center to open up a 7-1 lead for KSU.
“It was a great way to end the weekend,” Acheson told KSUOwls.com. “It was a total team effort. We head great pitching from Logan (Viers) and Morgan (Sikes), a couple of ESPN Top 10 catches by Noelle, and some big hits when we needed them. Courtney’s home run was the backbreaker, but we did a much better job offensively all day.”
The Owls will host Stetson in a weekend series starting with a double-header on Saturday, March 25, with estimated start times of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.