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Peyton Darnell
Peyton Darnell went three-for-four bating with a run scored and an RBI with a solo home run.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Softball Drops Both Games of a Doubleheader

A multi-homer day from Peyton Darnell and 11 total hits highlighted Sunday’s action at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium, but the South Alabama Jaguars took both games to conclude the series, winning 2-1 and 5-1. Pitching for both sides was solid as Sejal Neas and Delani Buckner combined to pitch 11 innings and allowed just three runs.

Game one was close throughout as both sides played solid defense. Darnell’s long solo homer to right field started the scoring for the App State Mountaineers (15-19, 3-9 SBC) and Neas went the distance while allowing only two runs. Despite the solid outing, South Alabama’s (21-14-1, 7-5 SBC) two-run third inning would be all it needed to secure the win.

Macy Hamby posted a multi-hit game to open her day, tallying her first career multi-hit game. She generated several scoring chances in the contest as she led off the sixth inning with a screaming double down the line and scorched a single in the second.

Overall, four different players recorded multi-hit games as Grace Barrett, Olivia Cook and Darnell joined Hamby. Darnell’s two-hit day extended her team-high hitting streak to seven games, and she sits just two hits away from 200 career collegiate hits.

After the Jaguars scored four runs in the first two innings of the second game, Delani Buckner did well to cut down the momentum and gave App State a chance to come back. Fresh off her solid day on Saturday, she tossed five innings in relief, allowing just one run and striking out four.

Game 1: South Alabama 2, App State 1
Despite struggling to find the strike zone in her first inning of work in game one, Neas and the Mountaineer defense worked around a walk and a double to post a scoreless opening inning. Neas tallied her first of six punchouts to end the frame.

In the bottom half of the first, Barrett snuck a grounder past the South Alabama pitcher to mark App State’s first hit of the day. Barrett hit safely in each game on Sunday. The Jaguars rolled a double play to end the inning, keeping things scoreless after one.

Dueling clean innings from both sides sent the game to the third as Neas struck out another batter in the second. After a scoreless inning from their defense, The Jaguars scored the game’s first two runs in the third to take an early lead.

Looking to answer, the Mountaineers picked up a baserunner in the bottom of the third courtesy of Hamby who slugged a liner into left. A double play ended the inning, but the App State defense did well to keep the deficit at just two by posting a scoreless fourth.

App State got on the board in the fourth inning after the defense held serve, trimming the deficit to just one on Darnell’s homer. The Jaguars retired the first two hitters in order, but with two outs, Darnell got ahead in the count and launched a long homer over the right-field fence. It was her seventh long ball of the year.

Neas picked up another strikeout in the fifth inning en route to a scoreless fifth. The Jaguars saw two runners reach in the sixth inning, giving them a chance to extend their lead. Despite the traffic, Neas used her defense to end the threat, forcing White to line to third where Cook caught it and fired to Thorp to double off the runner.

Fired up from their defense, the Mountaineers loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth courtesy of a double from Hamby and walks to Darnell and Houston. Facing its toughest test yet, South Alabama made a pitching change, which proved successful as the Jaguars got out of the inning unscathed to keep their lead.

The Mountaineers tallied a scoreless seventh inning as Neas completed her outing by striking out her fifth and sixth hitters. App State saw a runner reach on a single from Addie Wray in the seventh, but the Jaguars buckled down and secured the win in a tight contest.

Game 2: South Alabama 5, App State 1
South Alabama jumped in front early and never looked back as it scored four times in the first two innings. The Jaguars used two hits in the first to take the lead.

Kaylie Northrop made the start for App State and did well to limit the first-inning damage, picking up her first strikeout of the day. The strikeout of Tentinger marked her 200th career punchout, making her just the 10th player in program history to reach 200 career strikeouts.

The first two runners reached in the bottom of the first as the Mountaineers looked to fight back. Houston drew a walk to lead off the game and Barrett picked up her second hit by beating out a bunt to the pitcher. Despite the traffic, the Jaguars retired the next three hitters in order to retire the side and keep their lead.

Four more hits led to two more runs in the second inning, increasing the Jaguar lead to four. Olivia Cook helped spark a rally in the bottom half, but South Alabama kept her at first base to keep its lead after two complete.

Delani Buckner relieved Northrop in the third inning and immediately retired the first two hitters she saw, picking up her first strikeout of the game. Two hits with two outs pushed across South Alabama’s fifth and final run of the game, extending the deficit to five after three.

The Mountaineers found some two-out lightning in their half of the third, striking for a run off the bat of Darnell. Once again, the catcher got ahead in the count and found a pitch she liked, launching a long homer to left-center for her eighth of the season.

A scoreless fourth inning from the App State defense kept the momentum and Cook immediately paid it off by shooting a double off the left-field fence to lead off the fourth. She would be advanced to third with less than two outs, but the Jaguar defense left her stranded to keep their four-run advantage.

Buckner continued to quell the South Alabama bats over the next two innings, striking out a pair of hitters to keep the deficit at four. In the sixth, Coach Hoerner turned to her bench and Ambry Lucas shot a single into center, marking her first hit since March 2. She would be stranded at first as play trekked to the seventh.

App State tossed another scoreless frame to close the book on South Alabama’s offense, but it couldn’t muster any offense in the seventh inning as the Jaguars tallied a 5-1 win.

The Mountaineers will conclude their eight-game homestand with a doubleheader on Tuesday against the ETSU Buccaneers. It will mark the fifth and sixth time this year that the two teams will meet up. First pitch in game one is set for 4 p.m. with the second contest to follow approximately 30 minutes after. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.