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Grace Barrett
Grace Barrett went two-for-three with two runs scored.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Softball Defeats UNC-Greensboro

A huge play in the outfield by Addie Wray to take away a lead-off UNCG hit in the seventh inning and a strikeout from Kaylie Northrop fired up the App State Mountaineers as they claimed a big 6-4 road win over the UNCG Spartans on Wednesday. The Mountaineers struck for five runs in the first three innings and rode a strong relief outing from Northrop to the win.

App State (12-10) got its offense started with a three-spot in its first at-bat capped off by Taylor Thorp’s first home run of the year. Thorp took the second pitch she saw and slammed it over the right-field wall to give the Mountaineers a three-run lead before the defense took the field.

Peyton Darnell continued her strong season as she drove in two of the six Mountaineer runs in the game, including an RBI double in the fourth that pushed App State ahead by four. Darnell has driven in a run in each of the past four games.

The Mountaineer pitching staff worked around two UNCG (15-13) home runs to secure the win. App State’s effort in the circle was highlighted by four scoreless innings of relief by Northrop who struck out five and stranded two runners in the sixth inning to pick up her sixth win of the season.

App State’s depth continued to show itself as six different players accounted for the seven Mountaineer hits in the game. Grace Barrett’s two-hit effort helped spark traffic all game as she also scored two runs in the contest.

The offense immediately got to work in the top of the first, picking up where they left off on Monday and scoring three runs in the top of the first. Kayt Houston started things off with a hustle-double into left-center field and she was moved over to third by Barrett.

Darnell put the ball in play with a runner on third and it paid off as Houston hustled home to beat the throw from the second baseman to plate the game’s first run. With one runner already home and a runner on first, Thorp stepped to the plate and bashed a long fly-ball into left field that scraped the top of the wall and went over. It was Thorp’s first home run of the year.

The Spartans saw two baserunners reach in the bottom of the first inning and scored their first run to trim the early deficit, but Sejal Neas did well to limit UNCG from scoring any further, fielding two comebackers to end the inning.

Neas worked around a single in the second inning to keep the lead, allowing the Mountaineer bats to step to the plate looking to extend their lead in the third. Both Barrett and Darnell reached to begin the third, which sparked another rally for the Mountaineers with nobody out.

A Thorp walk loaded the bases in the third inning, allowing Killian Roberts a chance to hit with runners on. Roberts put the ball into play and the speed of Barrett at third drew a high throw from the second baseman that plated App State’s fourth run. Hailey Webb, who pinch-ran for Darnell, read the play perfectly and scored the second run of the third inning as she slid home safely, firing up the Mountaineer dugout.

UNCG answered in the bottom of the third to trim the lead, but the offense answered back immediately with another run in the fourth. After Barrett was hit by a pitch, Darnell smoked a 2-0 pitch into the right-center gap that got all the way to the wall and scored Barrett from first to plate run No. 6 in the game. To that point, the Mountaineers had scored 31 runs in their last 15 innings.

Unfazed by the Mountaineers’ hot start, the Spartans went to work to trim the deficit and did just that, scoring a pair of runs in the fourth to cut the App State lead to two. UNCG forced App State to make a pitching change in the fourth, turning to Northrop with one on and nobody out. The left-handed pitcher forced a flyout and a groundout to end the frame, keeping the Mountaineer lead after four.

In the fifth, Northrop came back to the circle and struck out the side, giving the offense the chance to tack on. App State loaded the bases courtesy of two singles and a walk, but nothing came of the rally.

A scoreless inning from Northrop in the sixth and a dueling zero by Ward in the top of the seventh sent things to the bottom of the seventh inning with App State still ahead by two.

Looking to close out the win, the Mountaineer defense stepped up to start the seventh inning as Addie Wray chased down a sinking liner in shallow center with a diving catch to prevent extra bases to lead off the frame. Fired up from her defense, Northrop struck out the last two hitters she saw to slam the door shut on a big win for the Mountaineers.

App State kicks off conference play this weekend with a trip to Atlanta for a weekend set with the Georgia State Panthers. First pitch from Bob Heck Softball Complex is set for 5 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.