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Addie Wray
Bunker Hill grad Addie Wray went three-for-six with an RBI in the doubleheader.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Softball Drops Doubleheader

Despite a complete-game, 132-pitch effort from Sejal Neas and a homer apiece from Kayt Houston and Peyton Darnell, the App State Mountaineers dropped a pair of Thursday contests to the Georgia Southern Eagles, 2-0 and 10-5. The Mountaineers slugged 12 hits across the two games, which included four extra-base hits, but a pair of multi-run innings from Georgia Southern helped them secure two wins.

It was a gutsy start in game one from Neas as she stranded nine baserunners and worked to allow just two earned runs, keeping the App State (21-29, 4-19 SBC) offense in the game. Throwing a season-high 132 pitches, Neas has allowed just two runs in her previous 14 innings.

The Mountaineers’ two leading home-run hitters each slugged a long ball on Thursday as Houston hit her team-leading 12th on a rocket in the fourth inning of game two, while Darnell slugged her 11th homer as part of a two-run seventh. Houston has homered in four of her last five contests.

App State’s no-quit attitude shined through in the final stages of game two as it plated five runs in the last four innings and outscored Georgia Southern (29-20, 11-12 SBC) 5-1 from the bottom of the fourth inning on. Addie Wray played a big role in providing momentum to the dugout as her RBI hit in the fourth gave her five RBIs in her last three games.

Georgia Southern 2, App State 0
In a well-pitched game one from both sides, Neas started the pitcher’s duel with a bang as she worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam to post a scoreless frame. After three straight knocks from the Eagles, the junior induced two straight flyouts to keep it at zeroes after a half.

Houston jump-started the App State offense in the bottom of the first as she sent her 18th double of the year ringing to the right-field fence. When she slid safely into second base, she had tied the program’s single-season doubles record. Houston was advanced to third by Darnell, but the Eagles left her stranded to keep it tied.

Neas worked around another Georgia Southern baserunner in the second to post a scoreless frame, picking up her first strikeout in the process. To that point, she had stranded four runners. Taylor Thorp started her day well by lacing a single up the middle to post a lead-off baserunner, but she was stranded.

Georgia Southern broke through on the scoreboard in the third, using three hits and a Mountaineer miscue to score twice. Neas struck out the last batter she saw to end the inning, her second of the game.

The Mountaineers threatened in the bottom of the fourth after the defense rolled a slick double play in the top half, seeing a walk from Thorp and a single by Wray put two runners aboard with two outs. For Wray, it was her fifth hit in the last two games. Despite the two-out threat, the Eagles rolled a grounder to get out of it.

Another scoreless inning from Neas gave App State another shot to get on the board in the fifth as Grace Barrett tallied her second hit of the contest, but Georgia Southern held serve.

Dueling scoreless frames sent things to the seventh with App State needing two runs to tie it. Looking to rally, Wray immediately delivered a single into center field, which was followed by Kathleen Barton’s walk to put two runners on with no outs.

Abby Cunningham stepped to the plate and delivered her Sun Belt-leading 10th sacrifice bunt of the season to advance both runners into scoring position, marking App State’s best scoring chance of game one. With one out and the top of the lineup looming, the Eagle defense settled in and retired the next two hitters to win the game.

Georgia Southern 10, App State 5
Taking the field for game two after a 30-minute pause, the Eagles scored two runs in the first three innings to take an early lead. Buckner did well to keep it close early on as in her 60th start, she was able to strand three Eagle runners in the first three frames.

Using a scoreless frame in the bottom of the third, Georgia Southern broke things open with a seven-run fourth, capitalizing on a Mountaineer error to score six two-out runs and forcing a pitching change. Coach Hoerner turned to Ava Beamesderfer, who came in and retired the only batter she saw to end the inning.

App State answered in its half of the fourth inning, scoring twice on three hits. With one out, Houston took the second pitch she saw in her second at-bat and smashed it over the tall right-field fence to plate the first run. Then, an Ambry Lucas single and a fielding error by Georgia Southern allowed Wray a chance to hit with another runner in scoring position. She promptly scored Hailey Webb, who ran for Lucas at second, to plate another run, giving her five RBIs in her last three games.

Neas came into the contest in the top of the fifth and kept Georgia Southern at bay in her eighth inning of work for the doubleheader, but the Eagles plated a sixth-inning run to extend their lead to 10-2 through six.

Needing a run to extend the game, the Mountaineers sent the heart of their order to the plate in the bottom half. Leading off the inning, Darnell sent a high fly-ball into the Boone night that sailed over the left-center field wall for a homer, her 11th of the year. It’s the third time in her five-year career that she has slugged at least 10 homers in a season.

Alannah Hopkins came in for the seventh inning and fired a 1-2-3 frame, striking out her second hitter of the game for the final out. In the bottom half, App State sent seven hitters to the plate and scored twice to spark momentum heading into the series finale.

A nine-pitch battle resulted in a walk from Killian Roberts and a one-out double from Olivia Cook put two more runners in scoring position for the top of the lineup. After a popup, Houston shot her second hit of the game into left, scoring two and giving her three RBIs. Despite the late fireworks, Georgia Southern retired the next hitter to close the game and sweep the doubleheader.

App State will conclude its season Friday with the series finale against Georgia Southern. Friday’s game is Senior Day, and the Mountaineers will honor their nine seniors pregame before holding Senior Graduation postgame. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.