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Kayt Houston
Kayt Houston led the team with 64 hits this season.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Softball Sweeps Doubleheader From NC Central

App State softball swept N.C. Central on the road on Wednesday, defeating the Eagles, 6-4 in the first game of the day before finishing the evening with a 7-3 victory.

Both App State pitchers reached their career highs in strikeouts. Delani Buckner punched 10 Ks in Game 1 before Kaylie Northrop struck out 14 in the second contest. Northrop tied Coastal Carolina’s Raelee Brabham for the most strikeouts by a Sun Belt pitcher in a game this season.

The Mountaineers increased their winning streak in the all-time series against the Eagles to 10.

Game 1 Recap (App State 6, N.C. Central 4)
Kayt Houston, Sidney Martin and Mary Pierce Barnes got things started for the Mountaineers, bringing in two runs in the top of the first. Houston singled and stole second before Martin singled to bring her home.

With Martin at second, Barnes batted in App State’s second run to close the inning. The Mountaineers are 11-0 this season when they tally a run in the opening frame.

In the second, Houston increased the lead to three by batting in Kennedy Upshire, who was walked previously in the inning during her first start of the season.

Taylor Thorp, who hit her first home run of the season in her last game, bombed another one on Wednesday to open the third inning. Moments later, Barnes took advantage of an N.C. Central error and increased the lead to five.

Thorp batted in another Houston run in the top of the fourth, marking six unanswered runs by the Mountaineers.

Defensively, Buckner retired eight straight batters between the first and fourth innings as the Black and Gold built a comfortable lead.

The Eagles eventually responded in a big way in the bottom of the sixth, when Maegan Garrison hit a grand slam to cut the lead to two.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Mountaineer defense held on. Buckner allowed no hits in the final inning and topped off the win with her 10th strikeout to end the game, the second-highest strikeout total of any App State pitcher this season.

Upshire also punched the first double of her season and the third of her career.

Game 2 Recap (App State 7, N.C. Central 3)
It was a slower start to the second game of the day for the visiting Mountaineers, but Emily Parrott was the first to reach home in the top of the fourth, cutting the Eagle lead to one after a pair of N.C. Central runs in the bottom of the first.

In the fifth, App State stole the momentum with five runs. Hannah Forbes opened the inning with a walk, followed by a single from Houston. That was the 150th hit of Houston’s career, as she became the second Mountaineer to reach that mark this week, joining Barnes, who reached 150 on Saturday.

Thorp recorded an RBI walk later in the fifth to bring in the first run of the inning before the Mountaineers picked up a couple more thanks to excellent base running by Forbes, Martin, Thorp, Barnes and Parrott. Addie Wray finished the inning with an RBI bunt, increasing the lead to four.

The Eagles responded with one run in the bottom of the fifth, breaking Northrop’s streak of 10 retired batters. Northrop finished with 14 strikeouts, a new career high. The junior struck out three batters in four of the seven innings.

Barnes put the icing on the cake with a triple down the left field line in the top of the seventh, and was batted in by Parrott shortly after.

Kathleen Barton made her first start of the season, and Claire Carson produced her first hit of the year in her second at-bat.

The Mountaineers will play five consecutive home games, starting with a weekend series against Texas State before they host Queens for a doubleheader on Tuesday.