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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 Sweeps Doubleheader Against Western Carolina

App State Softball stepped out of conference play for a Tuesday home doubleheader sweep of in-state foe Western Carolina by scores of 5-0 and 10-2 (in six innings) on Tuesday.

On a picture-perfect day in the High Country, the Mountaineers (19-24) won their fifth and sixth straight games against a non-Sun Belt Conference opponent. It was a welcome respite from a grueling league schedule in which App State had faced three of the top five teams in the Sun Belt – one of the nation’s premier softball conferences – over the previous nine league home games.

The Catamounts, who used to be a conference foe when App State competed in the Southern Conference, dropped to 14-29 with the two losses.

Game 1: App State 5, Western Carolina 0
In game one, the squads found themselves in an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel that was scoreless through the first five-and-a-half innings before the Mountaineers broke through with a five-run sixth inning.

Starting pitcher Sejal Neas pitched seven masterful innings, allowing only one hit and one walk while striking out eight for the complete-game shutout. She took a perfect game into the sixth inning before allowing her only two baserunners in the contest.

It was Neas’ 22nd career complete game, and she is now just seven strikeouts from 200 in her App State tenure.

The App State offense threatened to score in the bottom of the second after loading the bases, but the bats were unable to push across the first run until breaking through in the fifth.

After Abby Cunningham opened the fifth with a leadoff walk, Addie Wray singled, and Taylor Thorp walked to load the bases. Killian Roberts then walked to score Cunningham for what turned out to be the winning run.

But the home team wasn’t done.

Grace Barrett singled down the right-field line to score pinch-runner Hailey Webb and Wray. Kayt Houston brought in Roberts with a sac fly to make it 4-0 before Peyton Darnell finished the scoring with an RBI double to plate Barrett.

Wray finished the contest 3-for-3 with a run scored, and Barrett went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs from her leadoff spot.

Game 2: App State 10, Western Carolina 2 (6 innings)
After Neas’ near-perfect outing in the circle in game one, it was the Mountaineer bats that dazzled in the second game to cap the sweep.

App State put runs on the board in the third, fourth and fifth innings before completing the run-rule victory with three in the sixth and final frame.

Peyton Darnell led the onslaught with a 4-for-4 performance in which she scored a run and drove in five. Grace Barrett was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, and Macy Hamby had a 2-for-3 game with a run and a pair of RBIs.

After Western Carolina got on the board first with a solo home run in the third, App State answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame on a Darnell RBI double that scored Barrett and a Hamby double that scored Hailey Webb who was pinch-running for Darnell.

WCU tied it 2-2 in the fourth before the App State offense opened the flood gates. Kayt Houston drove in two with a double before Darnell sent a towering homer over the left-field fence to give the Mountaineers a 6-2 advantage.

Perhaps the biggest firework of the day was a solo opposite-field homer from Hamby to lead off the bottom of the fifth that she powered onto the roof of the Sofield Family Indoor Practice Facility in right center to make it 7-2. It was her first long ball of the season.

The Mountaineers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of sixth that paved the way for Darnell to drive in a pair on her fourth hit of the game before Houston scored on a passed ball to walk it off for the home team.

Kaylie Northrop earned the win in relief by pitching a scoreless 2.1 innings with a pair of strikeouts. Starter Delani Buckner fanned four Catamount batters, notching her 250th career strikeout along the way.

App State returns to Sun Belt play this weekend with a three-game set at Marshall on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.