April 16, 2012

Wins Put Wildcats Fourth in SWAC

WNC Grabs Three from North Idaho

It was all about the big inning for the Western Nevada College softball team on April 14.

The Wildcats used two multi-run innings to win the first game 8-2, then broke open game two with an eight-run third-inning outburst en route to a 9-1 five-inning victory over North Idaho College at Edmonds Sports Complex.

WNC, which has won seven of its last eight games, improved its Scenic West Athletic Conference fourth-place record to 15-18 and overall mark to 20-27. North Idaho slipped to 14-26 and 18-32.

"We all worked together and backed up our pitchers, and our hitting was spot on today," said WNC sophomore Taleas Marble.

Timely extra-base hits in the first two innings propelled WNC to the opening-game victory over the Cardinals.

Niki DiSera delivered a two-run triple during a four-run first inning, and Ali Lostra came through with a bases-clearing double to left-center field with two outs in the second.

"There were two out, and I just wanted to make something happen," Lostra said. "I just wanted to put solid contact on the ball and go with the pitch."

Lostra's clutch hit scored Melanie Pfeiffer, Marble and DiSera, giving WNC a 7-0 lead.

"We just wanted to get ahead and stay on top," Lostra said.

Alia Cox, who entered the game in the third inning after catcher Katirina Rand was hit by a pitch and injured, threw out Heather Bishop trying to steal second base. Cox's pinpoint throw on the first-base side of second base found the glove of shortstop Pfeiffer, who didn't have to move her glove as Bishop slid into the tag. Rand missed the rest of the opener but played in game two.

Amber Meyers, however, put the Cardinals on the scoreboard later in the third with a two-out homer to right field, trimming WNC's lead to 7-1.

The Wildcats filled the bases with one out in the third, but reliever Jenifer Rosie escaped the jam by striking out Marble and getting DiSera to hit into a groundout.

Alexia Alley relieved Lostra in the fourth. Lostra, the winning pitcher, gave up five hits and one earned run while striking out two and walking none.

In the fourth, Shelby Carter greeted Alley with a long home run to left, pulling North Idaho to within 7-2.

WNC was in position to win by the mercy rule in the sixth. Ashley Gleason's RBI single scored DiSera to give the Wildcats an 8-2 lead. But Rosie recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the rally, stranding Lostra at third base and Gleason at second.

Alley was relieved by Jordan Garcia in the seventh. Garcia retired the Cardinals in order to secure the six-run victory. Alley gave up five hits and one earned run in her three innings of relief. As Lostra did before her, Alley didn't surrender a walk.

Lostra and Marble led the Wildcats' seven-hit attack with two hits apiece. Marble scored twice, and Lostra knocked in three runs. DiSera had three runs scored and two RBI. Bishop, Carter, Nicole Atkinson and KaSara Wise had two hits for North Idaho.

"We just wanted to stay strong from the first inning to the last, and I think we did a pretty good job of that," Lostra said.

In game two, North Idaho jumped in front 1-0 in the first inning. Bishop doubled and came home on Ashley Moon's suicide squeeze bunt. After the Cardinals loaded the bases with one out, WNC starting pitcher Garcia struck out Atkinson and retired Wise on a lineout to second baseman Courtney Lange.

Rosie's control problems enabled the Wildcats to tie the score at 1 in the second, but WNC left the bases jammed. Rand and Trinity Thom were issued base on balls and Lange was hit by a pitch to fill the bases, then a walk to Garcia forced home Rand with the tying run. A fielder's choice at home and a fly out prevented the Wildcats from taking the lead.

However, the lost opportunity in the second hardly seemed to matter an inning later when the Wildcats sent 12 batters to the plate and exploded for eight runs. Marble's three-run homer to left-center finished the bountiful inning.

"I just saw meat," Marble said matter-of-factly of the pitch that led to her school-record 16th long ball of the season.

Other big hits during the rally were Jennifer Quam's two-run single to left, Pfeffer's run-scoring single to right, Rand's RBI base hit to right and Alley's RBI infield hit. DiSera contributed two hits during the scoring spree.

DiSera said a small strike zone by the home plate umpire didn't negatively impact the Wildcats.

"Even though the strike zone was tight, we didn't let the ump get in our heads, and our pitchers just kept throwing strikes," DiSera said.

Alley replaced Garcia in the third inning and received the win for her two scoreless innings. Lostra came in to close out the win in the fifth, striking out two hitters and retiring the final hitter on a groundout.

Leading the Wildcats' eight-hit attack was DiSera, who went 2-3 with a run scored. Rand and Alley watch went 1-2 with a run scored and RBI.

"Everyone did their part. It was a solid team effort," DiSera said.

WNC travels to third-place Snow College for a four-game series April 20-21.

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