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Ambry Lucas
Ambry Lucas scored all three runs for the Mountaineers.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Softball Ends Season Against Georgia Southern

Amidst tears from family members and memories recollected on Senior Day at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium, the App State Mountaineers concluded the 2024 season with the series finale against the Georgia Southern Eagles, falling 6-3 despite seeing the tying runner come to the plate in the seventh inning. The Mountaineers honored their nine seniors and one student manager pregame and after the game concluded, those same players walked across the stage to accept their diploma from App State University.

It was a coming-out party for Ambry Lucas as the sophomore plated all three Mountaineer runs in the game, which included her first career home run in the fourth. Lucas, who has started each of the last 12 games, left her mark in the final week of the season as she tallied nine hits in her last six games.

Making her 95th career appearance, Delani Buckner helped keep App State (21-30, 4-20 SBC) in the game as she tossed two scoreless frames while striking out four. She currently sits sixth on the program strikeout list. Kaylie Northrop got the start in the series finale, marking her 75th career appearance in a Mountaineer uniform.

Grace Barrett closed her stellar freshman season with a bang as she finished 3-4 with three singles against the Eagles (30-20, 12-12 SBC). For the year, Barrett tallied 56 hits, the second-most on the team, and batted .324. Kayt Houston, Peyton Darnell and Abby Cunningham also scorched hits as part of a seven-hit effort from the Mountaineers.

After an hour-long rain delay to open the day, the two teams finally took the field for the final time at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium and Northrop took the ball in the circle first. She retired two of the first three hitters she saw, but with two outs, a two-run homer spoiled the first inning as Georgia Southern took the lead.

In the bottom half, Barrett started her day by shooting a single into right field, her first of three hits, and Darnell reached to put two runners aboard. Despite the early Mountaineer threat, the Eagles quickly retired the next two hitters to end the inning.

Northrop quickly worked through the bottom of the Georgia Southern lineup in her second inning of work, striking out her first hitter of the game and retiring the last two batters on one pitch. In the third, the Eagles loaded the bases with two outs and a single that snuck just inside the left-field foul line extended their lead to four after three.

Georgia Southern scored twice more in the fourth on its second homer of the game, forcing a pitching change. Turning to Sejal Neas for the third time in the series, she forced a lineout to end the inning.

Needing an answer, the Mountaineers sent Darnell to lead off the bottom of the fourth and she helped spark life into the dugout as she laced a single off the third baseman’s glove, putting a runner on for Lucas. On the first pitch she saw, Lucas blasted a deep flyball off the scoreboard in left-center field to put App State on the board. It was her first career homer.

App State saw two more hitters reach base as Cunningham and Addie Wray worked hits, but a diving play in center helped steady things for the Eagles as the inning ended with them holding a 6-2 advantage.

Neas and her defense kept Georgia Southern out of the run column in the fourth, giving the Mountaineer offense another chance to cut into the lead. The first two runners in Houston and Barrett reached and were advanced on a wild pitch, putting two in scoring position for the heart of the order. Fresh off her fourth-inning homer, Lucas helped plate Houston for her third RBI of the game, making it 6-3 after five.

Coach Hoerner turned to Buckner in the sixth to keep Georgia Southern at bay and she did just that, striking out the first hitter she saw en route to a 1-2-3 frame. She would continue her scoreless outing into the seventh as she struck out three more to give her four punchouts as play moved to the bottom of the seventh.

Hailey Webb started things in the seventh for App State, marking her first at-bat since 2022, but it was Houston’s 247th career hit that started a rally in the inning as she and Barrett combined to put two runners on with one out. But Georgia Southern induced a lineout to double off the runner at first to end the game and complete the sweep.

{Information provided by Appalachian State Athletics}