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Kayt Houston
Kayt Houston had her eight home run of the season.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Softball Wins a Pair of Games at Winthrop Eagle Classic

The App State softball team (2-3) tallied 26 hits and scored 23 runs en route to two convincing wins on day one of the Winthrop Eagle Classic. Senior outfielder Kayt Houston’s four-homer and nine-RBI day highlighted the slugfest App State put on in the two games.

Along with the offensive production, the Mountaineer pitching staff pitched well across the two games, allowing just five runs and 11 hits. Sejal Neas recorded her second complete game of the season in game one against Monmouth, pitching five innings and striking out three.

Delani Buckner made her 50th career start in the Black and Gold in game two, throwing 6.1 strong innings. Buckner struck out nine and scattered three runs on five hits in her outing before Kaylie Northrop came in to close the game out in the seventh.

Game one saw seven different Mountaineers record hits, including three from Peyton Darnell and two from Killian Roberts. Roberts’ RBI single in the fourth inning marked her first RBI at App State.

In game two, it was Grace Barrett who picked up her first career RBI as her two-RBI single in the sixth helped App State jump ahead by seven runs after trailing by one heading into the sixth inning. Brooke Kennerly made her first career start against Le Moyne and picked up two hits and scored two runs.

Abby Cunningham played a major role out of the nine-hole as her three RBI helped blow the game open in the sixth inning against Le Moyne. Overall, Cunningham tallied three hits and three RBI.

Game 1: App State 11, Monmouth 2
Neas started her day in the circle by retiring the first three batters she saw in order in the first, allowing the Mountaineer offense to step to the plate. Neas’ clean inning was immediately paid off by Kayt Houston, who slugged a leadoff home run over the right field fence to give App State a lead it would not relinquish.

The first three Mountaineers reached in the first inning to put runners on the corners with one out. Killian Roberts then stepped to the plate and delivered an RBI single into left field that drove home the second run of the game and Olivia Cook followed Roberts with an RBI single of her own. Before the third out was recorded in the first, App State had plated three runs.

Monmouth answered App State’s strong start with a solo homer, but App State jumped right back in front by three in the bottom of the second thanks to Darnell. Cunningham led off the inning with a single and an error helped put runners on the corners for Darnell, who promptly shot a single through the left side to plate Cunningham.

Neas bounced back from the run she gave up in the second with a clean inning in the third. The Mountaineers added on in their half of the third, loading the bases for Kayt Houston who drew a bases-loaded walk to plate the fifth run of the game.

Monmouth answered in its half of the fourth inning, scoring a run on a Lawson single, but App State opened it back up in the bottom of the inning with six more runs. The Mountaineers loaded the bases for the second consecutive inning thanks to three straight singles from Darnell, Taylor Thorp and Killian Roberts. Olivia Cook drove in her second run and Addie Wray helped bring in another run, putting the ball in play that resulted in a dropped fly ball by the center fielder.

Houston stepped up to the plate yet again and with two runners on, she delivered a moonshot that cleared the right-field fence for a three-run homer and her second home run of the game. Houston finished the game with five RBI.

Now with a nine-run lead, Neas went back to the circle to finish what she started and did just that, striking out the last two batters she saw. In two games this season, Neas has recorded two complete games.

App State did not commit an error in game one while tallying 11 runs. The Mountaineer offense struck out just one time. It was a dominant game on all fronts.

Game 2: App State 12, Le Moyne 3
It was a closer battle in game two against Le Moyne, but an eight-run sixth inning and a four-run seventh propelled App State ahead for good after trailing for the first five innings. Houston hit two more long balls en route to a four-homer, nine-RBI day.

Delani Buckner took the ball for her 50th career start in the Black and Gold and immediately got to work, retiring the Dolphins in order in the first. Buckner struck out her first of nine batters in the first.

The Dolphins struck first in game two, however, slugging a home run that was just out of reach of Wray in center. Buckner settled in after that, retiring the next two batters to end the inning.

Houston tallied her first of three hits in game two in the third inning as she slugged a two-out double to left-center, marking App State’s second baserunner of the game. The Mountaineers used a leadoff single from Darnell to lead off the fourth inning to start a threat, but Bennett did well to strand the runner at second.

Buckner kept the lead at one through four, striking out two in the inning. A fifth-inning double by the Dolphins started a brief rally, but Buckner worked to strand the runner at third as she struck out her eighth batter of the game to end the fifth and keep the Mountaineer deficit at one.

App State’s bats came to life in the sixth inning as the Black and Gold struck for eight runs in the inning, highlighted by Houston’s third homer of the day to lead off the inning. Barrett and Darnell followed Houston’s home run with two straight hits to put the go-ahead run at third. Roberts capitalized on the scoring chance, shooting a ball into the right-center field gap that plated two. App State now led 3-1 with one out in the inning.

After the Dolphins recorded the second out, the Mountaineers scored five two-out runs. The two-out rally was started by Riley Becker who came off the bench and produced an RBI double, marking the second time in as many weekends that Becker came off the bench and produced a hit.

Out of the nine-hole, Cunningham tallied a two-RBI hit that made it 6-1, marking her first two RBI of the game. The eight-run inning was punctuated by Grace Barrett’s first two collegiate RBI as she floated a single into left that plated two more. When it was all said and done, App State had taken the lead, scoring eight runs on nine hits.

Buckner mowed down the Dolphins in the sixth, allowing the App State offense to come to bat again. The Mountaineers capitalized on Buckner’s strong start and scored four more times in the seventh to take a 12-1 lead.

The Mountaineers scored nine two-out runs in game two. Four of those came in the seventh. Brooke Kennerly started the rally with a single into right field and Wray reached base on an infield hit, allowing Houston to step to bat again. Houston took the extra opportunity and crushed her second three-run homer of the day into right field to plate App State’s 10th, 11th and 12th runs.

The Dolphins chased Buckner in the seventh with a home run, but Northrop closed the game down in the seventh. The lefty struck out the last batter she saw to punctuate an undefeated opening day at the Winthrop Eagle Classic.

App State continues play at the Winthrop Eagle Classic tomorrow starting at 12:30 p.m. The Mountaineers will play Binghamton and the host Winthrop. App State vs. Winthrop at 5:30 p.m. can be streamed on ESPN+.