skip to Main Content
Kayt Houston
Kayt Houston went one-for-three batting.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Softball Sweeps Doubleheader in Sun Belt Win Over Georgia State

With one out and a runner on base, Grace Barrett stepped to the plate looking to add to a slim one-run advantage in the seventh inning in game 2. On the first pitch she saw, Barrett did just that, slamming a two-run home run well over the left-field fence to give the App State Mountaineers a three-run lead. Delani Buckner, who came on in relief in the fifth, slammed the door shut on the first save of the season for the Mountaineers as they claimed a sweep on opening day of Sun Belt Conference play.

App State’s (14-10, 2-0 SBC) offense fueled them to the doubleheader sweep on Saturday, scoring a combined 16 runs and bashing four long balls. Barrett homered in her first plate appearance in game 1 and her last at-bat in game 2 to cap off a three-hit, two-homer, seven-RBI day in her Sun Belt Conference debut.

Delani Buckner made her first two appearances since Feb. 16 against Le Moyne and hurled 5.2 scoreless innings in relief, striking out seven across the two games and picking up a save in game 2. Georgia State (8-17, 0-2 SBC) had trouble picking up Buckner’s pitches as they only tallied five hits in 22 at-bats against Buckner.

It was another balanced effort for the Mountaineer lineup as six different players recorded multi-hit days in the conference opener. Addie Wray’s two-hit effort in game 1 helped her eclipse the 100-hit milestone for her career. Five different players drove in at least one run across the two games.

Game 1: App State 9, Georgia State 3
The Mountaineers started hot in the Sun Belt opener, thrashing two home runs and scoring four runs in the first two innings of the game. Kayt Houston led off the day with a walk and Barrett followed her with a two-run blast to left to give the Mountaineers an early lead.

After Neas held the Panthers scoreless in their half of the first, the Mountaineers struck for two more in the second courtesy of another two-run homer. This time, it was Houston who launched an opposite-field homer to left, marking her sixth home run of the year.

Georgia State trimmed the Mountaineer lead back to one after scoring twice in the second inning and once in the third, stringing together hits to score.

But the Mountaineers would answer Georgia State’s comeback effort with yet another crooked number in the fourth inning to jump back in front by three, capitalizing on a trio of fielding errors from the Panthers. The Mountaineers saw four consecutive runners reach in the fourth with Darnell’s sharply hit RBI single capping off the inning.

Neas rode her offense in the bottom of the fourth and tallied another scoreless inning, allowing the Mountaineer bats the chance to extend the lead in the fifth. They would do just that, smacking three hits and plating three more runs in the fifth inning as they tripled up the Panthers in Game 1.

Macy Hamby’s first career hit started things in the fifth inning and a bunt single and a walk loaded the bases for Barrett with one out. Barrett promptly cleared the bases with a ground ball that snuck past the diving third baseman and got to the wall. Barrett’s double gave her five RBIs for the game, which is a career-high.

The Mountaineers sprinkled in two more hits across the final two frames, but Buckner’s efforts in the circle kept the Panthers off the scoreboard as she tallied three scoreless innings in relief to slam the door shut on game 1.

Game 2: App State 7, Georgia State 4
It was a tight contest throughout the second game, but a four-run third inning and a clutch home run by Barrett in the seventh would be all the cushion the Mountaineers needed to sweep the doubleheader over the Panthers.

Just as in game 1, the Mountaineers struck first with a homer. After the Panthers recorded the first out in the second inning, Killian Roberts worked ahead in the count and mashed a 3-1 pitch over the left-field wall for her third homer of the year. Roberts’ homer marked the fifth consecutive game where App State has scored the game’s first run.

Georgia State used a pair of hits to score two runs in the second inning to take a lead, but App State answered back immediately with a four-spot in the third inning. Abby Cunningham led off the frame with a single, marking her first hit of the day and Houston followed her with a single to put two runners on for Barrett.

Barrett sacrificed both runners into scoring position, allowing Darnell another chance to hit with runners on. Darnell stroked a grounder to shortstop that scored Cunningham and an errant throw that rolled into the outfield allowed Houston to race home, plating the go-ahead run. Darnell’s RBI marked her sixth straight game with at least one RBI.

App State’s offensive onslaught continued as Taylor Thorp drove a double into right-center to plate Darnell and a Roberts SAC fly pushed Thorp home after she advanced to third on a passed ball. When the third out was recorded, the Mountaineers led 5-2.

The Panthers tallied a pair of runs in their half of the third to cut the deficit back to just one and after a clean fourth inning on defense, they threatened to take the lead again. Seeing runners on the corners and one out, App State turned to Buckner in relief who promptly ended the Panther threat with a pair of huge strikeouts to close the frame.

Dueling zeros by either side in the sixth inning sent the game to the seventh inning with App State ahead by one run. Needing insurance, Cunningham started the frame with a single, giving her a multi-hit game. A fielder’s choice tallied the first out of the frame, but Barrett provided a spark to the Mountaineer dugout with one out, taking the first pitch she saw and slamming it over the left-field fence for a homer. For the day, the freshman tallied two homers and seven RBIs.

Looking to slam the door on a doubleheader sweep, Buckner worked around two Panther baserunners in the seventh inning and induced a flyout to close the game and pick up the save. It was App State’s first save of the season.

The Mountaineers will look for a series sweep on Sunday as they close the weekend with another matchup against Georgia State at Bob Heck Softball Complex. First pitch is set for noon and can be streamed on ESPN+.