KENNESAW - Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Georgia State softball team was in the midst of a four-game losing streak that included a weekend sweep by Sun Belt Conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette. Turns out, an in-state rival was just what the Panthers needed to get things turned around.
Kaitlyn Medlam tossed a one-hit shutout and the Panthers scored their most runs in nearly a month in an 8-0 victory at Bailey Park.
Medlam didn’t allow the Owls’ only hit until Megan Veringa singled with one out in the fifth and moved to second on an error by right fielder Jessica Clifton.
Veringa was at third after Medlam surrendered her second walk of the night to Courtney Sutter and Missy Perkowski hit into a fielder’s choice, but Medlam escaped her only jam of the night by striking out pinch-hitter Caitlin Fowler. The right-hander, who picked up her sixth complete game and improved to 8-6, retired the final eight batters she faced to preserve Georgia State’s first shutout of the year.
Georgia State (14-16), which scored its most runs since a 10-2 victory over Quinnipiac March 1, did most of its damage against starter and Eastside graduate Amanda Henderson. Henderson walked Kensey Caldwell with one out in the second, then the Owls’ defense faltered and the visitors from Atlanta took control.
Henderson’s fielding error allowed Ashley Christy to reach and put runners at second and third. After a ground out, Morgan Brown reached on an error by second baseman Carly Van Auken, which chased home Caldwell with the first run of the night. Taylor Anderson followed with a three-run home run - her sixth of the season to pull even with Lauren Coleman for the team lead - and it was a 4-0 game.
Henderson, a senior right-hander, couldn’t get out of the third as Georgia State added a pair of runs. Heritage graduate Callie Alford walked to start the frame and Caldwell and Christy had consecutive singles, the last of which scored Alford and chased Henderson from the game after just 2 1/3 innings pitched. It was the shortest of Henderson’s 14 starts and four of the six runs she allowed were unearned after allowing just nine unearned runs combined in her previous 20 appearances.
Clifton greeted reliever Paige Mathews with an RBI-single that gave the Panthers a 6-0 advantage.
Mathews pitched well in relief of Henderson, allowing two runs in the seventh on Christy’s RBI-triple and a run-scoring single from Brown, but otherwise allowed just four hits and struck out six in 4 2/3 innings.
Both teams played Wednesday games that ended too late for this edition with Georgia State hosting Auburn and Kennesaw State entertaining Georgia Tech.