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Mountaineers handle Catamounts, take weekend series 2-1

Mountaineers+handle+Catamounts%2C+take+weekend+series+2-1

Appalachian State women’s softball came into its weekend matchup with long-time conference foe Western Carolina, seeking to maintain dominance over the Catamounts.

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Freshman infielder Ashley Best is congratulated by the team Saturday after scoring a run against WCU. Photo by Corey Spiers | The Appalachian

App State had won eight of the last 10 previous meetings versus Western Carolina going into the three-game weekend series.

The Mountaineers split a Saturday doubleheader with a 6-2 game-one win and a 5-0 loss in the second game of the day. App State won the series by defeating the Catamounts 7-4 in the final game of the series Sunday.

Game one
In the first game, junior catcher Sarah Warnock sparked App State offensively as she blasted her third home run of the season to give the Mountaineers an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

“I get in the box and see the ball well,” Warnock said. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball well, which is correlating to hitting well.”

The Catamounts struck back in the top of the second as junior catcher Heather Chastain sliced a double into left field.

Later, with the bases loaded, senior right fielder Amelia Griffin hit one just grazing the head of junior Mountaineers second baseman Cynthia Gomez to bring in two runs for the Catamounts, which would be the only two runs of the game for the visitors.

In the bottom of the third inning, with runners on first and second, App State freshman shortstop Cara Parker hit a grounder to second and reached  first safely after an error by the Catamounts. The hit brought in a run to tie the game at 2-2.

The Mountaineers regained the lead as junior center fielder Ashley Seering sent off a shot to center field to bring in two runs and give App State a 4-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, junior outfielder Whitney Johnson got on base with a walk. Junior third baseman Caroline Rogers followed the walk by smacking her first home run of the season to bring in Johnson and push the Mountaineers lead to 6-2.

“It was awesome and long overdue, so it felt good to finally get [a home run],” Rogers said.

App State sophomore right-handed pitcher Shivaun Landeros got the win on the mound in game one to improve her overall record to 7-7 for the season. She pitched the complete game, striking out seven batters and allowing six hits.

Game two
In the second matchup after a short 30-minute break, Western regrouped.

In the top of the first with two outs, Catamounts freshman third baseman Kara Salvo slammed in her fourth home run of season to give Western Carolina the early 1-0 lead.

With the early momentum on the Catamounts side, sophomore first baseman Taylor Sigmon launched a bomb to center, which looked to be at least a double. But App State’s Seering made a sliding catch to rob Sigmon of extra bases and end the inning.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh inning, Salvo launched one that bounced off of the center field wall just short of grand slam distance. The shot brought in a run for the Catamounts to extend its lead to 3-0.

Sigmon successfully added more insurance runs for the Catamounts in the seventh as she hit another to center field for a double of her own, bringing in two runs to put the Western Carolina lead at 5-0.

App State had one last attempt at a comeback in the bottom of the seventh but left one runner on base after three strikeouts. The Catamounts blanked their rivals in the second game 5-0 to even the series at a game each.

“The girls love playing at home in front of fans and family, and it’s a great venue to be able to play in,” App State head coach Shae Wesley said after the second game. “We need to have that same intensity and focus we had in the first game. Our main goal is to take the series and bounce back.”

Game three
App State did recover as it cruised to a 7-4 victory in the final game Sunday.

Freshman infielder Ashley Best lead the way for the Mountaineers with two hits in three at bats. She also compiled a team-high three RBIs.

The Mountaineers jumped out to a lead in the second inning and scored six of its seven runs in the first three innings of the game.

Seering put the Mountaineers up 1-0 early with an RBI single to left field, but the Catamounts answered with two runs in the second, taking advantage of an error from Warnock.

But the second inning put the home team on top, and the Mountaineers did not trail for the remainder of the game.

Best started off the second inning with a home run, and the Mountaineers scored two more times in the inning to take a 4-2 lead.

The Catamounts threatened in the top of the sixth inning as they put two runners on base but hit into a double play to end the inning.

Freshman pitcher Sydney Laws was credited with the win for App State, marking her third victory of the year. Laws allowed 10 hits, four runs and struck out four Catamounts.

Landeros saw more action in the series finale, earning her second save of the season as she shut down the Catamounts in the final two innings of play, allowing only two hits and no runs.

Wesley said winning the series is a big boost to the team.

“We are really proud of the team to come back and get the series,” Wesley said. “The team has worked really hard in practice to come back and be ready for conference games.”

App State plays a non-conference matchup at North Carolina Central on Wednesday before they travel to Samford for another conference weekend series. The game against North Carolina Central will begin at 6 p.m.

Story: Bryant Barbery, Intern Sports Reporter

Photo: Cory Spiers, Sports Editor

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