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Mary Pierce Barnes
Mary Pierce Barnes went three-for-three batting.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Softball Opens Season With Doubleheader Split

App State softball split the opening day of its 2023 season at Queens, defeating the Royals 5-2 in Game 2 after a 4-5 loss in the opening contest.

Sejal Neas threw the first six innings of the second contest, punching five strikeouts and allowing only one run. Offensively, three home runs were hit by the Black & Gold throughout the day, including a 3-run bomb by Kylie LaRousa in the second game.

On the day, App State earned nine runs to Queens’ seven, and out-hit the Royals, 16-11.

In game one, after two scoreless innings by both squads to start, Mary Pierce Barnes scored the first run of the 2023 season in the top of the third, homering to right-center to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead. Barnes has recorded nine home runs in her career.

The Royals responded with three consecutive runs in the third and fourth innings, giving themselves a two-run lead heading into the fifth.

During the top of the fifth, preseason All-Sun Belt selection Kayt Houston and Barnes hit back-to-back singles, landing them at third and first base, respectively. With two outs, Kaley Coltrain singled to left field, bringing in Houston for Coltrain’s first RBI as a Mountaineer.

Queens posted two runs in the bottom of the fifth, making the score 5-2.

As App State needed a spark in the sixth, Sidney Martin delivered, landing the first home run of her career to cut the lead to two.

The pressure shifted to the defense in the bottom of the sixth. Down by two runs with two on and one out, Taylor Thorp and McKenzie McCullen ended the inning with a double play.

The Black & Gold kept their foot on the gas in the top of the seventh, as Addie Wray and Houston each singled to open the inning, advancing to second and third during a throw.

With two runners on and no outs, the Royals, up by two runs, brought in their relief pitcher. Coltrain was walked shortly after, loading all three bases with one out.

McCullen reached first on a fielder’s choice, bringing in a run by Wray, cutting the lead to one in what would be App State’s final run of the contest.

Delani Buckner started the day in the circle and was later relieved by Kaylie Northrop, who struck out two batters.

The Mountaineers had 10 hits in the contest, including three by Houston.

In game two, App State never trailed in the second match. Thorp got the scoring trend started in the second inning, singling up the middle and bringing in Martin’s second run of the day.

Pairing that score with two straight innings of no Royals on bases, App State led 1-0 heading into the fourth.

After Coltrain brought in an unearned point, LaRousa stole the show, raising the lead to five with a home run to left center. Thorp and McCullen were on base.

Neas, who also assisted three putouts, held Queens scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. The Royals would score one run in each of the last two innings as Neas would eventually be relieved by Kapri Toone, who made her first appearance in the Black & Gold.

Thorp and McCullen made their second double play of the day to finish the game. Over both games, McCullen led the fielders from first base with 15 putouts, one assist and a perfect fielding percentage.

The Mountaineers will compete in the Pinnacle PC Invitational with matchups against IUPUI, Seton Hall and Presbyterian next weekend. Their first home game will be on Mar. 8 against North Carolina.