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Kayt Houston
Kayt Houston earned first team all-conference honors for the Mountaineers this season as well.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

App State Softball Wins Over NC A&T

After falling behind by three runs early, the App State Mountaineers found their offensive footing with an eight-run fourth inning and a three-run fifth inning to post an 11-3 victory over the North Carolina A&T Aggies in five innings on Wednesday. It’s App State’s first run-rule victory since March 11.

The Mountaineers’ (17-21, 4-11 SBC) two-out hitting reigned supreme in the win as they scored all eight of their fourth-inning runs with two outs, seeing nine straight hitters reach base. A two-out walk from Abby Cunningham started the big inning and the rest of the bats followed suit to take the lead.

With three more hits, Kayt Houston tied Lindsay Glover’s program record of 229 career hits which was set in 2007. It was Houston’s 18th multi-hit game this season. Joining Houston with multi-hit games was Grace Barrett and Macy Hamby who also both recorded multi-RBI games. Hamby’s three-RBI double in the fourth inning opened the floodgates for App State and marked her first career multi-RBI game.

Despite facing some early adversity, Sejal Neas pitched well in the midweek contest, striking out seven Aggies (9-30, 3-15 CAA) while walking none. Neas hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in an appearance since March 30, continuing her recent stretch of solid pitching.

The Mountaineer offense started well against the Aggies, recording the first hit of the contest courtesy of Houston’s 44th career double. She took a 1-1 pitch and flung it down the left-field line to kickstart the offense. With an early chance, the Mountaineers sent their third and fourth hitters to the plate, but the Aggies worked out of the inning to keep it scoreless.

Making her way out to the circle for her team-leading 19th start, Neas worked a perfect inning and picked up her first strikeout to retire the side, needing just 11 pitches to do so. App State went quietly in the top half of the second and N.C. A&T used that momentum to score the game’s first runs. The Aggies capitalized on a Mountaineer miscue and plated two.

Another quiet inning from the offense sent things to the bottom of the third where the Aggies tacked on their third run of the contest to extend their lead. Two straight hits from the second and third hitters in the order helped plate the run. Neas did well to keep the deficit at just three, retiring the next two hitters to end the inning.

Searching for an answer, App State sent the top of its order to the plate in the fourth inning. The Aggies forced a groundout and popout to record the first two outs, but a double from Peyton Darnell helped start a rally with two outs as Cunningham stepped to the plate.

Darnell’s double gave the Mountaineers a chance and they capitalized on that chance, loading the bases with a walk and a single from Addie Wray, allowing Hamby a chance to drive in a run. On the first pitch she saw, the freshman whacked a double into right-center field that cleared the bases and tied the game. It was her first of two doubles in the contest.

Bottom-of-the-order production was vital to the App State offense today as Olivia Cook continued the inning with an RBI hit and flipped the order around for Barrett. Barrett sent a single into center to plate the fifth run of the fourth inning and Houston’s RBI double extended the advantage to four. App State’s stellar fourth inning was capped off by a pinch-hit two-RBI single from Ambry Lucas who pushed the lead to five. When the final out was recorded, App State had plated eight runs on eight hits to take the lead.

The Aggies threatened to cut into the Mountaineer lead with a one-out hit off Neas, but a slick play at second by Hamby nabbed the lead runner for the second out and Neas got the last out herself with a strikeout.

App State added to its lead in the fifth inning, using three more hits to plate three more runs. Again, the bottom of the order helped spark the crooked number as Hamby smoked her second double of the game down the left-field line and Brooke Kennerly walked to put two runners aboard. A walk to Cook loaded the bases for Barrett who promptly sent home two more to make it 10-3.

After a pitching change, Houston continued her great day at the plate with another RBI hit, her 229th career hit, putting her in a tie for the program record for career hits. The lefty’s hit gave the Mountaineers an eight-run lead and a pair of strikeouts from Neas helped end things early as App State claimed its 17th win of the season.

The Mountaineers are set to welcome the James Madison Dukes to Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium this weekend for a three-game set starting Friday. It will be the first-ever visit to Boone for the Dukes. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. on Friday with every game being streamed on ESPN+. Admission to Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium is free.

{Information provided by Appalachian State Athletics}