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App State softball remains winless in conference

Senior outfielder Dani Heichen connects for a triple during game three of App State’s home series against UT Arlington. The Mountaineers (9-21, 0-12) were swept by the Mavericks. Gerrit Van Genderen | The Appalachian

UT Arlington swept App State softball in a three-game series over the weekend.

During a cold Saturday double header, the Mountaineers were outscored 23-8 in the two games before losing the final game of the series 14-3 Sunday.

Game 1: 7-1 loss

Weather proved to be an obvious factor in the first game of the double header, with a temperature of 32 degrees at game time. Both teams struggled with the conditions but the Mavericks powered through and won 7-1.

“It was definitely a shock for Arlington, because they’re coming from about 80-degree weather,” App State head coach Janice Savage said. “I was hoping it would be an advantage for us, and help us because we’re used to playing in it.”

However, that was not the case. 

Senior outfielder Dani Heichen connects for a triple during game three of App State's home series against UT Arlington. The Mountaineers (9-21, 0-12) were swept by the Mavericks. Gerrit Van Genderen | The Appalachian
Senior outfielder Dani Heichen connects for a triple during game three of App State’s home series against UT Arlington. The Mountaineers (9-21, 0-12) were swept by the Mavericks.
Gerrit Van Genderen | The Appalachian

To begin the game, the Mountaineers’ freshman starting pitcher Kaitlin Williford was pulled after facing just three batters.

“We pitch by committee here,” Savage said. “I didn’t want us to get down and not come back. I wanted to kind of mix things up and put a different vibe out there and see what we could do.”

By the third inning, the Mavericks jumped out to a four-run lead thanks to two home runs against App State’s third pitcher of the day. UT Arlington eventually extended its lead to 7-0 in the seventh inning.

“The weather is more of an excuse,” senior infielder Cynthia Gomez said. “We all should have been mentally prepared for it to be cold. It should have been an advantage for us. They’re obviously from Texas where it’s a lot warmer, but I think it affected us more physically and mentally.”

The Mountaineers went down swinging in the bottom of the final inning, getting two hits off of UT Arlington sophomore pitcher Sam Montes, who pitched the entire game giving up just seven hits and one run.

Those two hits resulted in Gomez scoring the team’s only run of the game.

Game 2: 16-7 loss

The Mountaineers came out with more intensity and obvious motivation to start the second game of the double header against UT Arlington.

“Everyone just had their heads in the game that second game and wanted to win and had the fight,” freshman first baseman Heather Josey said.

That fight was obvious as App State shut Arlington out in the first three innings thanks to the play of redshirt junior starting pitcher Katherine Johnson, who let up just one hit in that time frame.

Johnson started to struggle a bit in the fourth inning, though, giving up two runs. She then gave up three more in the fifth, giving the Mavericks a 5-1 lead.

That all changed in the bottom of the fifth inning as App State put five runs on the board, with a home run from Josey to take the lead.

Savage stuck with Johnson again to start the sixth inning, but after giving up two more runs, she pulled her.

“I stuck with Kat because she’s been keeping the ball pretty low and giving me some groundballs,” Savage said. “Even if they are getting hits, it’s not hurting me. Plus, my other pitchers weren’t hitting their spots.”

As soon as Johnson was taken out of the game, the rout was on.

In the sixth inning alone, the Mountaineers went through four different pitchers and allowed 11 runs. In one inning, App State went from leading by one to trailing by 10.

The Mountaineers scored a run in the bottom of the sixth, but after that, the game was called.

“We’ve just gotta start playing better softball,” Savage said. “We’re not putting everything together right now. We’re hit-or-miss in some areas, and it’s inning-by-inning.

Game 3: 14-3 loss

App State squandered an early lead in the series finale and couldn’t find a way to steal one from the visitors and as a result, remain winless (0-12) in the Sun Belt.

The Mountaineers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the first inning behind back-to-back RBI doubles from senior catcher Sarah Warnock and freshman utility player Tiffany Taynor.

UT Arlington cut into the deficit in the second inning, scoring one on a sac fly with the bases loaded to leave the score at 2-1.

App State looked to be in control most of the way through the top of the third inning, with the score still 2-1 with two outs in the inning.

However, UT Arlington then went on to reach base with four walks in the inning, two of which came with the bases loaded, to go along with a single, a double and two home runs to give themselves a 9-2 advantage.

Senior pitcher Alissa Schoelkopf started the game for the Mountaineers, but struggled with her control, issuing eight walks in just 2.2 innings of action along with six runs on two hits.

Shoelkopf was replaced in the top of the third by Johnson who gave up three runs on two hits and one walk while only recording one out.

Freshman pitchers Kaitlin Williford and Mackenzie Steele finished the game for App State, with Williford giving up five runs on five hits in 1.2 innings.

It was Steele’s first career appearance and she recorded the final out of the fifth inning with a strikeout.

The Mountaineers were unable to overcome the 14-2 deficit entering the bottom of the fifth inning, with the game ending via the run rule as the Mountaineers were down more than 10 runs after the fifth.

Sophomore utility player Cara Parker helped notch the final App State run as she recorded an RBI single in the fifth, scoring Taynor to make the final score 14-3.

UT Arlington’s sophomore outfielder Mallory Foster went 5-5 in the series, blasting three homers and adding 14 RBI. All of her plate apperances came as a pinch hitter.

With the series sweep, App State fell to 9-21 on the season while UT Arlington improved to 21-15.

The Mountaineers return to action at home to face Georgia Southern in Boone in a three-game weekend series starting Friday.

Story: Colin Tate, Intern Sports Reporter
Lee Sanderlin, Intern Sports Reporter

Photo: Gerrit Van Genderen, Managing Editor 

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