PEACHTREE CORNERS — Whatever offensive momentum Wesleyan found against Madison Gossett at the end of its opening game loss to Dade County, the Wolverines third baseman snatched it away to start Game 2.
With a runner in scoring position on second base and two outs Landyn Duley smoked a line drive down the third base line that looked like it would score Lillie Baker. But Dade’s Summer Stevens snagged the liner to end the inning and the offensive threat.
And while the Wolves bats cooled again, the Wolverines stayed hot. Dade County had struck for five of its seven Game 1 runs in the seventh and the Wolverines kept the runs coming winning series with a 7-2 victory in Game 2.
This was the second consecutive year Dade County ended Wesleyan’s season, last season defeating the Wolves in three games in the Class AA state championship series in Columbus. Both years the wins came on the pitching of Gossett. The right-hander pitched every inning Wednesday against Wesleyan striking out 12 in the first game and allowing just three hits in Game 2.
“She’s very talented and she uses her pitches well,” Wesleyan head coach Nichole Dixon said. “She’s had to pitch for them the entire year. She’s one of the most talented we’ve every seen, but she definitely has mental toughness, probably moreso than any pitcher we’ve ever seen.”
Dade County scored three runs in the first inning off starter Dacia Jones, who allowed three of the first four batters she faced to reach before head coach Nichole Dixon swapped her starter for Riley Henning. Henning allowed a pair of hits in the inning, but escaped without any of the batters she faced scoring and stranding three Wolverines on base, but Wesleyan already trailed 3-0.
After the Wolves went down in order in the second, the Wolverines struck again. With two outs, Dade County strung together four straight hits adding another run off of Henning, forcing Dixon to return Jones to the mound. Jones gave up a hit and a walk as Dade added three more runs, taking a 6-0 lead after the first two innings. All but one of Dade County’s 13 hits in the second game were singles.
“They hit the ball well,” Dixon said. “They did a great job at the plate.”
Wesleyan’s first hit, a triple by the senior Duley in the fourth, led to its first run with she scored with two outs on a wild pitch by Gossett. Dade answered with a run of its own on a wild pitch in the bottom half returning the lead to six runs at 7-1.
Wesleyan loaded the bases with one out in the sixth with just one hit, but only managed one run on an RBI fielder’s choice by Emily Farrow to score Baker. Duley, who had her second, and the team’s second hit of the night in the inning was forced out at third on the play.
Wesleyan fell in the first game 7-2 and didn’t cross the plate until the game was out of reach.
The Wolves fell behind 2-0 in the first two innings on a two-out solo home run by Madison Lacy in the first inning and a two-out RBI double in the second and through the first six inning the two runs appeared enough for Dade County.
Gossett struck out 11 over her first six innings, twice stranding two Wolves on base. Wesleyan manged just two hits with its other base runners coming on a pair of walks and two hit batters by Gossett. Two Wesleyan runners were picked off first base by Dade County’s catcher Lacy to squelch any chance at a rally.
Dade County opened the game up with a five-run seventh aided by a pair of Wesleyan errors to seal the Game 1 victory. Wesleyan scored a pair of runs and a two-out RBI double by Gabby Hernandez in the bottom half of the inning to avoid the third shutout of the season, making the big top half sting all the more. Gossett capped the win with her 12th strikeout.
“One of the things about our kids is we ask them to never give up,” Dixon said, talking about the base runners in the late innings of both games. “Every game we’ve played this year they’ve never stopped believing or given up. It’s hard to bring them down.”