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Grace Barrett
Grace Barrett went two-for-three batting.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Softball Falls 1-0 to 19th Ranked Texas State

In a hard-fought pitcher’s duel in San Marcos between Delani Buckner and Texas State’s Jessica Mullens, the App State Mountaineers fell in the series finale 1-0 to the No. 19 Bobcats on Sunday. Buckner, who made her first start in over a month, matched the three-time Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week pitch for pitch, but a third-inning double would be all the Bobcats needed to secure the win.

The senior pitcher finished the game for the Mountaineers (15-13, 3-3 SBC), tallying three strikeouts while only walking one batter. She induced several weakly hit balls and used solid defense behind her to toss a complete game on just 72 pitches.

Offensively, the Mountaineers did well to make the Bobcat (26-7, 5-1 SBC) defense work, seeing a baserunner reach in all but one inning. For the game, App State swatted four hits, which included a two-hit game from Grace Barrett and Taylor Thorp’s 98th career hit.

App State played a stellar game on the defensive side of the ball behind Buckner, committing just one error and coming through time and time again to keep the game close. Brooke Kennerly nailed a would-be base-stealer in the third inning and Kayt Houston ran down a fly ball deep in the gap to prevent extra bases to lead off the fourth. Abby Cunningham’s five putouts in left field led the team.

Sunday’s series finale started with App State tallying the first baserunner of the game, using a sharply hit groundball off the bat of Barrett to get things started. The Mountaineers recorded a first-inning hit in all three games against the Bobcats.

After Texas State recorded the last two outs to end the inning, Buckner made her way out to the circle to make her third start of the year and worked a scoreless frame, striking out her first two batters of the game. The righty blew a fastball past the lead-off hitter and froze Jones to end the first.

Dueling scoreless innings from both sides sent things to the third inning where Kennerly led off for the Mountaineers. The freshman worked a walk to notch a baserunner and she was advanced to second via a sacrifice bunt from Cunningham, putting a Mountaineer in scoring position for the first time in the game for Houston. Houston put the ball in play, but a tough-luck lineout and a throw to second ended the inning as the Bobcat defense worked three scoreless innings.

Texas State scored the game’s lone run in the third inning, using three hits to do it. Kennerly and Barrett combined to limit the damage from the Bobcats in the inning, catching a base-stealer at third on a slick play from both parties. The Mountaineers cut down another out on the bases, this time nailing a runner trying to extend a double into a triple. Cunningham fired a strong throw to Olivia Cook at third who applied the tag to end the frame. It was Cunningham’s fourth outfield assist of the season.

Taylor Thorp provided the Mountaineers with a two-out baserunner, looping a single into left field to mark the second Mountaineer hit of the game in the fourth. She would be stranded, but Buckner bounced back with a clean inning to keep the deficit at one after four.

The Bobcats threatened again in the fifth inning with a pair of hits to put two runners aboard, but Buckner induced a flyout to left to bring the Mountaineers into the dugout with a chance to tie it.

App State’s bats came to life in the top of the sixth inning as two hits from Barrett and Peyton Darnell put two runners in scoring position with one out. Barrett started the rally with a single into center field and Darnell laced a double down the left-field line that fired up the Black and Gold as she pumped her fist at second base. Despite the adversity, Mullens retired the next two hitters to end the frame.

Buckner fired another scoreless inning to complete her day, giving App State one last chance to tie the game in the seventh inning. Texas State retired the first two hitters, but Kennerly provided a two-out baserunner as she hustled out a misplay at first to reach. Coach Hoerner turned to Riley Becker to pinch-hit with two outs, but Mullens came back and retired the side to end the game.

The Mountaineers welcome the reigning Sun Belt champion Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium for a three-game set next Thursday-Saturday. It will mark App State’s first Sun Belt home series. First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+. Admission is free.