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The Wildcats softball team produced three victories during a weekend tournament in Yuma, Ariz., with solid hitting, pitching and defense taking turns in delivering the wins.
"We had another good weekend. We made some improvements from last weekend," said WNC Coach Leah Wentworth.
In an opening 11-6 victory against Arizona Western College, the Wildcats rapped 14 hits with four coming off the bat of Taleas Marble. Marble's 4-for-4 performance included two triples and three RBI.
Ashley Gleason and Alia Cox also were busy at the plate, collecting three hits apiece, while leadoff hitter Jennifer Quam socked a pair of hits.
WNC used a six-run second inning to take a lead it never relinquished. Marble started the bountiful uprising with a triple and later knocked in two runs with a single. Alexia Alley tossed five innings to pick up her third win of the season. Alley surrendered just three hits and one run.
A six-run inning also figured in Western Nevada's second tournament win, as the Wildcats erupted for a 6-0 first-inning lead against Mesa College. That was more than enough support for Ali-Marie Lostra, who scattered six hits and allowed two earned runs over five innings to earn her first win. Alley prevented any thoughts of a Mesa comeback by throwing two hitless innings of relief and striking out three for the save. The Wildcat pitchers were backed by a solid defensive effort with only two errors and the hitting of Tori Crowell. Crowell supplied two of the Wildcats' eight hits and knocked in three runs, including a two-RBI base hit during the six-run first frame.
Next, the Wildcats put their two-game winning streak on the line against the National Junior College Athletic Association's top-ranked and defending national champion, Yavapai College, falling 8-2 despite scratching the scoreboard first.
Quam walked, stole second base and scored on an error for a 1-0 WNC lead in the opening inning. Yavapai, however, scored three times in the second inning to take the lead for good and pulled away with two runs in the fourth and three in the seventh. Quam finished with two of WNC's five hits off winning pitcher Amelia Willadsen.
Western Nevada bounced back with a 5-2 triumph against Golden West College for its third win of the tournament. Lostra kept Golden West hitters off balance, pitching the distance while the defense behind her played errorless ball. She allowed six hits and two earned runs while throwing scoreless frames over the final five innings.
Marble and Crowell led a nine-hit offensive attack with two hits. Lostra helped herself with a two-run base hit in a three-run WNC first inning.
The Wildcats completed the day with a back-and-forth duel against El Paso Community College. After falling behind 2-1 early, WNC rallied to take a 7-4 lead before El Paso battled back for an 8-7 victory.
The patient Wildcats drew nine walks off two El Paso pitchers, with Quam, Gleason and Marble accounting for the team's three hits.
On the final tournament day, WNC's fast starts continued, but the Wildcats came up short in losses to Eastern Arizona (11-4) and Arizona Western College (13-5).
In the nightcap, WNC jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first inning, but Arizona Western used four-run scoring flurries in the sixth and seventh innings to break open a tight contest.
Marble came through with her third multi-hit game of the tournament, knocking out three hits and scoring twice. Her performance was highlighted by a home run to right in the sixth inning.
Marble also homered in the defeat to Eastern Arizona, while Jordan Thomas topped the Wildcats with two hits.
"We're still trying to find the right combination on defense," said Wentworth, whose club made 13 errors against the Arizona schools. We gave some of the teams too many bases on errors."
The Wildcats (5-9) will open Scenic West Athletic Conference play February 10 and 11 with a four-game set at NJCAA No. 2 ranked Salt Lake Community College, at St. George, Utah.
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