In a delayed elimination contest on Thursday night, the App State softball team suffered a season-ending loss at the hands of Coastal Carolina. The Mountaineers (29-26) fell to the Chanticleers (23-28) by a final score of 3-2 as an off-the-wall double from Riley Zana proved to be the difference as the Chanticleers advanced to the next round of the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Softball Championship.
Following an offensive struggle when these two teams met a week ago in Conway, S.C., the Mountaineers were on the attack early this time around. Emma Jones got the game started with a lead-off single but the Mountaineers failed to bring her across the plate for the opening run. App State got on the board first, however, as they scored in the top of the second frame. Kati Waalk hit a two-out, RBI-double to drive in Addie Wray.
Following a pair of hitless innings, Abby Jankay went yard in the bottom of the fifth. The two-run shot put the Chanticleers on top as the lead changed hands on the final pitch before a lightning delay halted play. After a weather delay of nearly two hours, Coastal Carolina picked up just where they left off. With runners on the corners, Zana collected an RBI-double to extend the Chanticleers’ advantage to two runs.
App State fired back in the top of sixth when Mary Pierce Barnes led off the inning with a stand-up double. A few pitches later, she moved to third base following a wild pitch. The Mountaineers took advantage of a Coastal Carolina error as Barnes came home to halve the deficit while McKenzie McCullen reached second base.
Delani Buckner came in to relieve Sejal Neas in the top of the sixth inning. Buckner struck out two of the first three batters she faced as she dealt a perfect sixth. The Mountaineers needed something in the final frame but ultimately went down in order.
Barnes and Wray led App State offensively as both players recorded one hit and one run scored. Waalk registered one hit and one RBI while Jones tallied a hit as well.
Sejal Neas got the start for the Mountaineers, pitching the first five innings of the contest. The freshman fanned a pair of batters in her first postseason collegiate tournament.
Despite Thursday’s loss, the Mountaineers finished with their fourth-consecutive winning season under fifth-year head coach Shelly Hoerner. All but one of App State’s starters from this season will be returning to the team next season, which will start in early February.