Hits were scarce for the Western Nevada College softball team during a four-game road trip March 30-31 in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Community College, ranked fourth in a National Junior College Athletic Association poll, confined the Wildcats to 13 hits and three runs to sweep a pair of Scenic West Athletic Conference doubleheaders, 10-0 and 11-1, followed by 8-0 and 10-2 decisions.
"They've obviously improved since the beginning of the season, and they are just a tough team to go up against," said WNC Coach Leah Wentworth. "We failed to hit the ball the first day, and the second day we did a little better."
Western Nevada, which handed Salt Lake one of its six losses in 43 games back on February 11, struggled to string together hits against a pitching staff with a 1.74 earned run average.
"We're not the only team that struggles against these pitchers," Wentworth said.
In the first game, McCauley Flint and Kylee Colvin combined to two-hit the Wildcats in five innings.
The Wildcats' first two batters in the order, Jennifer Quam and Melanie Pefeiffer, smacked WNC’s only hits.
Salt Lake, which improved to 28-4 in the SWAC and 37-6 overall, scored three runs in the first inning and four more in the fourth to pull away from the Wildcats.
Ali-Marie Lostra started on the mound for the Wildcats, giving up three earned runs on four hits in two innings. The WNC offense didn't fare much better in game two, producing three hits against starter Ariel Zimmerman and Colvin in a 10-run, five-inning defeat.
On the other hand, Salt Lake had success at the plate with WNC starter Jordan Garcia and reliever Alexia Alley, totaling 14 hits and 10 earned runs. Salt Lake, which has six players hitting better than .400, scored six times in the first inning to put WNC in an early hole.
"They have tough outs all the way through their lineup, and they have speed all the way through their lineup," Wentworth said. "They're just a strong team."
Taleas Marble broke up the shutout bid with a solo home run in the fourth inning. It was her school-record 11th of the season. Quam and Niki Disera supplied WNC's other hits, and Quam also stole two bases.
WNC's offense didn't get untracked on March 31 as Salt Lake won both games shy of a regulation seven-inning contest. Marble and Quam each rapped a hit against Flint, who worked four innings to pick up her second win of the series.
For the third successive game, Salt Lake got off to a quick start, scoring five times in the first inning. Alley, who relieved Garcia in the second inning, kept the Bruins' bats relatively quiet the rest of the way, surrendering four hits and no earned runs. She struck out two and didn't walk a batter in three innings.
"Lexi Alley held them back the most," Wentworth said. "She changes up the speed and moves the ball around well."
Western Nevada forced Salt Lake to play past the fifth inning in the series finale but still came up eight runs short.
WNC went ahead 1-0 in the first inning. Quam reached on an error and stole second base. After Quam advanced to third on a groundout, Lostra's base hit to right knocked in Quam. Salt Lake again jumped ahead quickly, scoring eight times in the first three innings to build an 8-1 lead.
In the fourth, Lostra's double to left-center field set up the Wildcats' second run. Pinch-runner Emily Nagel eventually scored on Disera's ground ball to first. Quam and Lostra provided two hits apiece, while Disera and and Pfeiffer delivered one. Quam also stole her fourth base of the series, raising her season total to a SWAC-leading 33.
"We had her in scoring position almost every time she was up at bat, but we weren't able to get her in (enough)," Wentworth said.
Lostra kept the Wildcats within striking range by limiting Salt Lake to three earned runs and four hits in two innings, but the Bruins broke it open with a four-run third to go in front 8-1.
WNC, now 8-17 in the SWAC and 13-27 overall, will host Colorado Northwestern on April 6-7 at Edmonds Sports Complex. The Wildcats took three games from CNCC on Februaray 18 in Rangely, Colo.
"We need to get some confidence back all the way around," Wentworth said. "We really should be able to do well against this team if we play like we know how."
Press Release: April 1, 2012
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