- Mountaineers fail to win a game in series against Troy
- Hannah Day hits 6 home runs over three games for the Trojans
- Mountaineers set records for home runs and total bases in game three
Friday’s first game in the double header wasn’t a pretty one for the Mountaineers. App fell behind early against the Troy Trojans and never came back, losing 11-1 in just five short innings. The Trojans scored four runs in the top of the first inning and refused to look back as they cruised on to their 19th win of the year and second in the Sun Belt.
Hannah Day got the day started for the Trojans, belting a three-run shot to left center. Day finished the game with four RBIs, the best on her team in game one. Heather Johnston, Becca Hartley and Erica Davis all recorded an RBI each for the Trojans. Johnston’s came on a solo shot to left center, her first of the season.
Freshman Annaleise Kennedy started the day in the circle for the Mountaineers, but wouldn’t stay there long. Kennedy gave up seven runs, five earned, on seven hits in just 1.1 innings of action.
Fellow freshman pitcher Claire Eosso came on in relief for Kennedy, and threw 2.2 solid innings, allowing just one run in that span, before giving up three runs in the top of the fifth, bringing the mercy rule into play for the Mountaineers.
The Trojan pitching found a groove all game against the Mountaineer bats, giving up just six hits in one run. Senior Ashley Rainey started the game for the Trojans and went four innings giving up just one run on six hits.
The lone run came in the bottom of the fourth when Pepper Butler smacked a two-out double to center field and was able to plate Heather Josey as a result.
Despite the loss, the Mountaineers’ Natalie Orcutt continued her torrid hitting this season, the lone bright spot for the team during the 11-1 loss. Orcutt went 2-3 in the game, improving her batting average to .362 on the season.
“I’m really proud of [Natalie],” head coach Janice Savage said. “Since we put her in the lead off spot she’s done really well for us.”
Game two started as a promising one for the Mountaineers, as they got off to a scorching start compared to game one. Junior Vanessa Ciocatto started game two in the circle for the Apps, and limited Troy’s offense in the first inning, giving up just two runs.
Then came the Mountaineer bats. Orcutt got things started with a first inning walk, and would eventually score on an RBI single from Heather Josey. Then, with two on base, senior Cara Parker ripped a three-run shot, putting the Apps up 4-2, which would be their only lead of the game.
Troy responded quickly, scoring four runs of their own in the top of the second, anchored by two home runs, a solo shot by Hartley and a two run blast from Day.
The Mountaineers responded in the bottom half of the inning, scoring two runs on an Orcutt homer to opposite field. The home run was Orcutt’s second of the season.
Troy burst open the floodgates in the top of the third, scoring 11 runs, all coming against Ciocatto. In total Ciocatto gave up 17 runs, 15 earned, on 15 hits.
Day was the big story in both games. Day hit two more home runs in the second game, both in the third inning. The first was a two-run shot and the second was a grand slam. Day finished the game. 5-5 with two doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs. For the day she totaled four home runs and 13 RBIs.
The Trojans continued to pour it on, scoring six more runs in the top of the fifth, giving them a 23-6 advantage, which would be the final margin after the Mountaineers failed to gain any ground in the bottom of the fifth.
The Apps committed five errors in the game, something coach Savage was equal parts surprised and disappointed about.
“We’ve been playing great ball defensively, I mean flawless ball defensively for the last three weeks,” Savage said. “I think tonight came down to having to get up and go to class, and then having to [come play].”
The Mountaineers fell 25-19 in a seven inning slugfest against Troy during the final game of the series on March 19, despite setting program records for home runs in a game with seven and total bases with 41, during a contest that lasted over four hours.
App State honored their senior center fielder before the game, with the day being declared “Pepper Butler Day.”
Ciocatto, starting in the circle for the Mountaineers, struggled early, giving up five earned runs to put the Mountaineers in a 5-0 hole. App State dug themselves out of it quickly when Orcutt got on the board with an RBI from freshman infielder Jenny Dodd.
Parker then hit her first of two home runs on the night with a three RBI homer to right center which brought in Dodd and sophomore infielder Tiffany Taynor to bring the Mountaineers within one run, trailing 5-4.
“I think knowing what they were throwing, watching film and expecting things just helped us come through,” Parker said when asked about their success at the plate in game three in comparison to their previous two games against the Trojans.
The top of the third brought more damage from Troy’s Day and center fielder Carli Kayler as both homered, bringing the Trojan’s lead to 9-4. The two would combine to go 9-for-12 (.750) with six home runs, eight runs scored and 15 RBI in the game. Day finished the three game series with 12 hits, 19 RBI and six home runs.
After a three RBI home run from Dodd and infielder Josey in the fourth inning, App State once again was only trailing 9-8.
“We threw everything at [Day] and we even tried to walk [Day] and she still hit the ball,” Savage said. “[Day] did a great job by making adjustments for our pitching staff but she had a great weekend.”
Down in the sixth inning 16-10, Butler connected on her second home run of the game, a three-run shot, driving in Parker and Josey to make it a 16-13 game.
“It felt really special, I never thought I would do that,” Butler said in reference to her two home runs. “Especially since it was a pressure situation since it was my day. It was fun and I felt really relaxed.”
Trailing 16-15 after a seven-run rally with two outs, Savage made a coaching mistake by sending Dodd to the plate despite being replaced by a pinch runner earlier in the inning and never officially re-entered Dodd in the game.
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The Trojans took quick notice of the rule violation and called a challenge that would rule Dodd out and end the inning. Savage threw her own challenge flag, but after looking at the rulebook, the ruling stood and the inning came to an end.
“It is my mistake, and that is something I need to get better at as a coach,” Savage said. “I definitely think it was a huge momentum change for us, but who knows what would have happened.”
Troy took advantage with a nine-run seventh inning expanding the lead to 25-15.
“After coming back and giving up nine runs the next inning, it doesn’t really help when you’re down one,” Savage said.
The Mountaineers would score four more runs capping a game that had seven App State players hit home runs, a combined 44 runs, 52 hits and 91 total bases.
“Every time we put up 19 runs, we should be winning a ball game,” Savage said. “But the exciting thing is we can put up 19 runs against one of the top teams in the conference.”
Putting up an offensive showcase against one of the top teams in the conference, the team is taking away the positives.
“I always knew we were a good comeback team,” Butler said. “We just never give up.”
“I think it is encouraging since it is the beginning of the year,” Parker said. “We have a long way to go and we are just trying to make adjustments and get better everyday. It is a big fight for us and we know we can compete with anyone.”
With the conclusion of the series the Mountaineers now stand at 6-23 on the season, 1-5 in the Sun Belt. Troy improved to 21-7 on their season and 4-2 in Sun Belt play.
App State continues their home stand with a doubleheader against Morehead State on March 22. First pitch of game one is slated for 4 p.m.
Story by: Lee Sanderlin, Sports Editor and Jason Huber, Sports Writer