LAKELAND, Fla.—The Fire came away with a 9-8 win over No. 3 Columbia, then dropped a 7-1 contest during a non-conference doubleheader.
Both games featured solid starting pitching in the first few innings, with the first game scoreless through four, with just five total hits between the two teams.
Columbia struck first, getting a two-out RBI single in the top of the fifth.
The Fire answered in a big way, plating eight, and sending 12 batters to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. RBI singles from Cheyenne Blaha and Brandee Pietrzak gave the Fire a 2-1 lead.
Blaha was 3-for-4 in the first game, and Pietrzak finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and two RBIs.
With two outs and the bases loaded Cat Maldonado drilled a ball to left-center field to clear the bases and make it 6-1.
An error brought in two more runs to extend the lead to 8-1.
A three-run homer in the top of the sixth kept the Cougars within reach, and another in the seventh made it a one-run game with one out.
Freshman Stef Guercio came on in relief to pick up two strikeouts and her second save of the year.
The win went to Lindsie Scholwinski, bringing her to 13-5 on the season. The senior threw 5.1 innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits with a pair of strikeouts.
In the second game, Blaha hit a two-out solo homer to left to put the Fire up 1-0. However, Southeastern would manage just four more hits the rest of the contest.
Two of those came in the bottom of the sixth—trying to answer a seven-run inning by the Cougars, highlighted by a grand slam, the Fire loaded the bases on singles by Blaha and Pietrzak, and a hit by pitch to Kiah Ferrell. A lineout turned into a double play, and a fly out to left retired the side.
All seven runs and seven of Columbia’s 13 hits came in the sixth.
Heather Faulk and Blaha had two hits each in the second game.
The Fire return to conference play on Friday in Bluffton, South Carolina in a three-game set against USC Beaufort.