May 7, 2012

Thomas Gives Lineup a Jolt with First Two Homers of Season

Wildcats Upset Golden Eagles in Twin Falls

Western Nevada College gained some confidence going into this week's Region XVIII Tournament in Taylorsville, Utah.

The Wildcats surprised second-place College of Southern Idaho with a 6-3 victory in the third game of their Scenic West Athletic Conference softball series May 4-5 in Twin Falls, Idaho. WNC also had a chance to split the series but left the tying runs on base in the final inning of a 6-4 defeat, which featured an emerging power hitter for the Wildcats.

CSI blanked the Wildcats by identical 7-0 scores in the other two games of the series.

Sixth-seeded Western Nevada (16-30 SWAC, 21-39 overall) will meet third-seeded Snow (32-18 overall) in an opening-round regional game at 11 a.m. (PST) May 10. If the Wildcats win that game, they will play CSI (43-16) later that day at 4 p.m. (PST). A opening-game loss would send the Wildcats into the losers' bracket of the double-elimination tournament on May 11.

The Wildcats rattled out seven hits in the May 4 series opener but left seven runners on base in the 7-0 setback. Niki DiSera topped the Wildcats with two hits, while Jennifer Quam, Melanie Pfeiffer, Taleas Marble, Jordan Thomas and Mikaela Henshaw each collected a hit.

Pitcher Alexia Alley went the distance, allowing nine hits and six earned runs. She also didn't issue a free pass.

Game two was a different story as the top four hitters in the WNC batting order and a pair of pinch-hitters delivered in the clutch.

WNC Interim Coach Rosie Contri inserted Ashley Gleason and Trinity Thom as back-to-back pinch-hitters during the Wildcats' decisive sixth-inning rally. Gleason's pinch-hit base hit to center scored Marble to tie the score at 2. With the bases still loaded, Thom took advantage of her lone at-bat, swatting a two-run single to right to put the Wildcats ahead for good, 4-2. The timely hit scored DiSera and Courtney Lange, both of whom had reached base by walking.

After CSI pulled within a run in the bottom of the inning, WNC built a three-run cushion by scoring twice in the seventh. Pfeiffer started that rally with a base hit to center and took second base on a wild pitch. DiSera's double to right scored Pfeiffer, then a groundout and error enabled DiSera to come home for a 6-3 WNC lead.

Alley retired the Golden Eagles in order in the last of the seventh to preserve the victory.

"We showed some true character," WNC Interim Coach Rosie Contri said of her team's bounce-back victory.

Offensively, Quam was 2-4 with a run scored, Pfeiffer was 1-4 with a run scored; Marble was 1-2 with two walks, a run scored and RBI and DiSera went 2-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Ali Lostra worked 5 1/3 innings to earn the victory. She allowed eight hits and two earned runs. Alley threw 1 2/3 innings of hitless relief to notch the save. She also struck out one.

In game three, a late WNC rally fell short in a 6-4 setback. Thomas charged up the WIldcat dugout with solo home runs in consecutive at-bats leading off the second and fourth innings. They were her first home runs of the season.

"I'll tell you what, they were shaking in their boots," Contri said.

WNC scored once in the second and fourth to close the deficit to 6-2 and tallied two runs in the seventh to make things interesting. Back-to-back doubles by Pfeiffer and Marble triggered the Wildcats' seventh-inning comeback. Quam started the rally by reaching base on an infield error. Pfeiffer followed with a double to left, sending Quam to third. Marble's double to left scored Quam and moved Pfeiffer to third. DiSera picked up an RBI, plating Pfeiffer when her shot up the middle deflected to the shortstop, and she was then thrown out a first. Thomas walked, bringing the potential winning run to the plate, but CSI pitcher Jyl Eckstein got Gleason to fly out to left to cap her complete-game performance.

Wildcat starting pitcher Lostra surrendered seven hits and six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, but Alley shut down the Golden Eagles' attack, silencing them on three hits and no walks in 3 2/3 innings.

Pfeiffer was 2-4 with a run scored, Quam doubled in four at-bats with a run scored, Marble was 1-2 with two walks and an RBI, DiSera knocked in a run and drew a walk and Thomas was 2-2 with two runs scored and two RBI.

Three CSI pitchers one-hit the Wildcats in the series finale, paving the way to a 7-0 victory. Pfeiffer's one-out base hit in the sixth broke up the no-hitter. Lea Hopson homered for CSI.

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