DECATUR — You could spend days trying to figure out how the Newton County Lady Cougars played like they did Saturday afternoon and never come up with a good answer.

The Lady Cougars turned in one of their worst games of the year in the Class 3A South State championship series opener as they committed six errors in an 8-5 loss to the Richland Lady Rangers.

Then, they put together one of their better efforts of 2007 in ripping Richland 10-0 in five innings in Game 2.

Newton County, 24-6, travels to Richland, 18-13-1, for the decisive Game 3 Monday at 6 p.m.

“It’s just hard to explain the first game. It shouldn’t be nerves because we’ve been here before,” Newton County coach Justin Chaney said. “We got behind and it was like we started pressing. Everything just unfolded on us. We had a little adversity.

“In Game 2, we came back though and showed a lot of character. We didn’t make an error and we hit the ball when we had to. I was extremely proud of that.

“It was a do-or-die situation for us.

“The biggest thing is we won and we get to play another day.”

Richland struck for five runs in the top of the second inning of the opener to go up 5-0. The big blow was a bases-loaded triple to center field by

Leslie Allen. Winning pitcher Brandie Westerfield had an RBI single in the frame with another run scoring on a double steal.

The Lady Cougars only had one error in the inning, but botched two other chances to get outs on bunts.

Newton County got two runs back in the bottom of the second as Calli Cumberland singled and scored on the second of two wild pitches. Summer Alexander reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and third and scored on a fielding error by Westerfield.

Shoddy defense cost the Lady Cougars in the top of the third as Erin Bailey

singled and went to third when the ball was misplayed by Lacey Gilmore in

right field. She scored on an infield error.

The Lady Cougars fought to within 6-5 with three runs in the bottom of the

third. Kasie Buckley and Cumberland had singles with two Richland errors and

a wild pitch resulting in the three-run frame.

Richland upped its lead to 8-5 with a pair of unearned runs in the fourth as

Kristen Pillsbury was unable to hang onto a fly ball in shallow center by

Olivia Tripp.

Newton County had seven hits with Buckley and Cumberland both getting a pair

of singles.

Richland had 10 hits with Angie Briggs, Kasey Britt and Bailey each getting

two.

Newton County had six errors — all coming in the first four innings — to

four for Richland.

Buckley (16-2) took the loss with Westerfield getting the win.

In the second game, Buckley (17-2) tossed a three-hit shutout and the Lady

Cougars scored twice in the first inning and four times in both the fourth

and fifth frames.

Buckley also had a single and a homer to drive in two runs. Megan Munn had

two singles and two RBIs. Pillsbury had a single and a triple. Kala Massey

had a double with Alexander getting a single and two RBIs. Chelsea Pugh and

Brittany Cochran both had a single and an RBI.

Richland starter Lauren Harper took the loss despite allowing only two runs

and four hits in three innings. The Lady Cougars roughed up Westerfield in

relief for eight runs on six hits over the final two frames.

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