Hayes Fulford throws the ball back into the infield in Columbia’s 6-0 loss to Lafayette on February 19. The Lady Tigers were shut out by Gainesville for the second straight game Thursday night (photo by THOMAS RICKS/Special to the Reporter).

Lady Tigers fall to Gainesville

CHS stifled by Lady Hurricanes’ pitcher Katie Chronister.

 

GAINESVILLE — There’s a reason why she’s going to pitch at the University of Florida next year.

She’s good.

And she was too good for Columbia on Thursday night.

Gainesville pitcher Katie Chronister threw a complete game three-hitter to lead the Lady Hurricanes to a 4-0 district win over the Lady Tigers.

Chronister struck out nine batters and only allowed five base runners. Gainesville, ranked fourth in the nation in USA Today’s first poll of the season Thursday, grabbed sole possession of first place in District 3-7A.

Neither team had many chances at the plate, but the Lady Hurricanes (9-1, 2-0) took advantage when they had the chances, aided by some help from the Lady Tigers (3-4, 1-1).

A wild pitch from Columbia starter Cris’Deona Beasley allowed Morgan Bare to score in the third inning for Gainesville’s first run. Then, with a runner on third with two outs, Columbia had a chance to exit the inning with a routine ground ball.

But an error allowed Chronister to reach first and keep the inning alive.

Chronister’s sister, Jackie, made Columbia pay, drilling a 2-RBI single to extend Gainesville’s lead to 3-0.

Jackie Chronister, who went 2-for-3 on the night, later added another run off Beasley in the fifth with a two-out RBI single to score her sister Katie after she singled the previous at-bat. 

Beasley pitched a complete game for Columbia, striking out five while giving up four runs on six hits. But two of those runs came unearned in the third

“They totally took advantage of the opportunities we gave them,” Columbia head coach Trudy Andrews said. “We had an error in one inning and a wild pitch, and that’s how they got those three runs. That’s the name of the game. When you have two good teams like GHS and us, you’ve got to take advantage of those weaknesses, and they made plays.”

Despite the Chronisters’ big night, Columbia actually brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh inning.

After Kamdyn Kvistad drew a walk and Dara Gaylard singled to center, SK Lewis loaded the bases when she beat out the throw at first on an infield single.

That brought Alaina Perry to the plate, but she popped out to first to end the game.

Columbia simply ran out of outs against Chronister.

“I think we were starting to get comfortable and starting to read her and make her work a little bit more,” Andrews said. “That’s one thing we talked about in our huddle. That’s a good thing. We (had) girls who hadn’t faced her, but they’ve now seen her one good time, and they saw what she does. The young girls put the bat on the ball. Everybody put the bat on the ball, so now we’ve just got to do it with some authority.”

Columbia’s only other chances to score came in the second and fourth innings. Tatum Morgan was thrown out at third on a double play to end the second, and Lauren Hutcherson was later stranded on third with one out in the fourth.

Overall, the Lady Tigers went just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position as they were shut out for the second straight game.

“We’re improving at hitting. I saw better things happen at the plate tonight, which is good for us because that’s one of our goals,” Andrews said. “Just keep improving and keep getting confident in the box and turn that offense around because we have been struggling offensively. But we’ve got to take those opportunities when we’re leaving people on base. We can’t do that. We’ve got to turn it around.”

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