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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 Rallies For Late Win Over Coastal Carolina on the Road

With the game tied at two in the sixth inning, the App State Mountaineers saw the first two hitters reach in Killian Roberts and Addie Wray. They would both be advanced on a sacrifice bunt and after a strikeout for the second out, Abby Cunningham played hero as she stroked a single into left to plate two and give the Mountaineers the lead.

In the seventh, the Mountaineers tacked on another run and Sejal Neas slammed the door shut on a 5-2 App State win, marking the second consecutive win for the Mountaineers over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the first win for App State in Conway since 2019.

The Mountaineer (16-19, 4-9 SBC) offense clicked right from the opening pitch as they scored a first-inning run to take the lead immediately. App State cranked eight hits in the game, highlighted by Peyton Darnell’s three-knock effort that was punctuated by a seventh-inning homer. Darnell’s second hit of the game was the 200th of her career, making her the second Mountaineer to reach that milestone this season.

Pitching and defense played a major role in taming a strong Chanticleer (25-17, 5-8 SBC) offense as the duo of Delani Buckner and Neas kept Coastal Carolina to just two runs while striking out six. App State was errorless in the contest and made several key defensive plays to prevent hits and strand runners.

Despite riding a recent cold streak, Cunningham couldn’t have picked a better time to break her slump as her two-out, two-strike hit plated the go-ahead runs against Coastal Carolina star pitcher Raelee Brabham, who has the third-most wins in the country with 18. A total of six Mountaineers tallied a knock in the game.

Starting on offense for the first time in six games, the Mountaineer bats started hot with two hits and a run in the top of the first. The game started with a long Kayt Houston at-bat that resulted in a leadoff single.

After a sac bunt moved Houston into scoring position, Darnell moved her to third with a first-pitch rip into center to put runners on the corners for Taylor Thorp. With less than two outs, Thorp showed her poise and inserted a flyball into right that scored Houston to plate the game’s first run.

Responding to the lead she was given, Delani Buckner jogged out to the circle to start the contest for the Mountaineers and delivered a perfect first inning, picking up her first strikeout of the night. The Chanticleers tallied their first hit in the second inning, but another Buckner strikeout left the runner stranded as App State kept its lead after two.

In the third, the top of the lineup stepped to the plate for the second time and provided another spark to the Mountaineer dugout with another run. Coastal Carolina recorded the first out of the inning, but three consecutive hits by Grace Barrett, Darnell and Thorp resulted in the second run.

The inning got started with a knock into left by Barrett and Darnell scorched a liner into center to mark her 200th career hit. Simpson took over at first for Darnell and stole second, putting two runners in scoring position for the Mountaineer cleanup hitter. Striking again, Thorp looped a sinking liner into center that plated Barrett, extending the App State lead to two after three.

Coastal Carolina answered in its half of the third to tie the game, using a two-run homer to do so. It was the only blemish on the App State pitching line in the game. Looking to answer, App State sent the bottom of its order to the plate in the fourth. A one-out single from Macy Hamby tallied the Mountaineers’ sixth hit of the game, but the Chanticleers left her stranded.

Making her way out to the circle for her fourth inning of work, Buckner retired the first two hitters she saw, but two straight two-out singles put a runner in scoring position for the Chanticleers, forcing a pitching change. Coach Hoerner turned to Neas who induced a grounder to short to strand two.

Neas continued her solid relief outing into the fifth as she racked up two of her four strikeouts to leave another runner stranded and keep it tied as play progressed to the sixth. Riding the momentum from the defense, the Mountaineer bats saw the first two runners reach to immediately generate a scoring chance for Olivia Cook.

Cook advanced both Roberts and Wray into scoring position. The Chanticleers retired the next hitter, but Cunningham came up clutch as she sent a liner into left field that drew the windmill from Wray, scoring two. Coastal Carolina bounced back to end the inning, but not before App State had taken a 4-2 lead.

App State’s defense held serve in the bottom of the sixth inning to keep its two-run advantage after six. Needing some insurance, the Mountaineers turned to Darnell who launched a solo homer into center field to extend the lead. It was the third straight game in which Darnell has homered.

Now up three, Neas looked to slam the door shut on a series-opening win and did just that, retiring the side in order to end the game. Neas was dynamite in relief as she struck out four over 3.1 scoreless innings.

App State continues its three-game set with Coastal Carolina on Saturday with game two at St. John Stadium. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+.

{Information provided by Appalachian State Athletics}