Eagles hand Mountaineers three losses behind solid pitching

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Nick Joyner

The Georgia Southern Eagles (27-11, 11-1 SoCon) came to Boone to face the Mountaineer softball team (13-22, 3-8 Southern Conference) in a three-game series this weekend.

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Members of the softball team react as pitcher Alissa Schoelkopf strikes out a Georgia Southern batter Saturday afternoon. The Eagles defeated the Mountaineers three times this weekend. Photo by Cara Croom | The Appalchian

The Eagles swept the Mountaineers in the series, winning twice in a doubleheader Saturday and taking the final matchup Sunday afternoon.

Game one

In a game that featured great pitching for both teams, Georgia Southern defeated the Mountaineers 4-0.

Senior third baseman Shelby Morrill started the game off with a bang, opening the scoring by drilling a home run over the centerfield fence to give the Eagles a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first.

But after the first run, both starting pitchers assumed control of the game. The Mountaineer’s junior pitcher Alissa Schoelkopf and Georgia Southern’s Sarah Purvis dueled into the top of the seventh scattering several hits but allowing only one run total between them.

“I’m always competitive,” Schoelkopf said. “I like playing Georgia Southern though because they always bring good competition.”

Junior right fielder Dani Heichen was one of the lone bright spots for the Mountaineer offense, reaching base twice and swiping two bases, tallying her season total to 17 stolen bases.

“It’s very important for me to get on because when I do, it’s usually producing a run,” Heichen said.

The Eagles took advantage of defensive miscues in the top of the seventh to break the game open.

Sophomore Dominque Grossman reached base to begin the inning and came around to score on a throwing error.

After freshman outfielder Taylor Rogers and infielder Emily Snider reached base, senior infielder Kourtny Thomas then lined a ball into deep center to bring Rogers around. An errant throw brought Snider home to score.

The Eagles recorded a perfect bottom of the seventh to secure the victory in game one.

Schoelkopf picked up the loss for Appalachian, dropping her record to 2-6 on the season.

 

Game two

The bats came alive in game two of the doubleheader, as Georgia Southern pounded out three hits in the top of the fourth to secure a commanding 6-2 lead that they would never relinquish as they cruised to a 9-4 win.

After the Eagles scratched across a run in the top of the first, the Mountaineers evened the score on some heads up base running by Heichen, who scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half of the first inning.

Appalachian took its first lead of the series in the bottom of the second when junior utility player Pepper Butler hit a ground ball into a gap, driving in sophomore outfielder Kristen Terry to give the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead.

Georgia Southern delivered a fatal blow in the top of the fourth inning when Morrill hit her second home run of the day, this time a grand slam, to plate four and give the Eagles a 6-2 advantage.

After the Eagles managed three more runs, the Mountaineers cut into the lead in the bottom of the sixth. The effort was highlighted by App State freshman Cara Parker’s team-leading fifth home run of the season.

The comeback bid fell short, though, as Appalachian fell for the second time on the day.

Sophomore pitcher Shivaun Landeros was charged with the loss for the Mountaineers, falling to 8-10 on the season.

“I think it’s a very fine line separating us, and I think a lot of it comes down to heart and desire,” Wesley said after game two.

 

Game three

The Mountaineers fell again to Georgia Southern on Sunday afternoon 4-3. The loss closed out the three-game weekend series.

App State scored two of its three runs on solo home runs as junior second baseman Cynthia Gomez recorded her first career home run. Butler added another home run in the fifth inning.

“We hit a couple home runs,” Wesley said. “It’s just nobody was on [base], and it comes down to timing a lot of the time.”

Following the weekend’s games, Georgia Southern remains comfortably atop the SoCon standings, a full two and a half games ahead of second-place Chattanooga.

“They are the best team in our conference,” Gomez said. “But this game, I felt as if we fought a lot as a team.”

Schoelkopf pitched a complete game, allowing four earned runs on nine hits while recording six strikeouts. The loss brings her season record to 2-7.

App State will travel to East Tennessee State University for their next game Tuesday. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Story: Nick Joyner, Senior Sports Reporter and Ben Cogsdale, Intern Sports Reporter

Photo: Cara Croom, Intern Photographer