Darby Homers in Softball Opener
Through four innings on Friday, everything was in place for a season-opening victory for the Western Nevada College softball team. But 16th-rated Yavapai College of Prescott, Ariz., exploded for five runs with two outs in the fifth to wipe the Wildcats’ 2-0 lead, en route to a 7-2 triumph in Las Vegas.
The game was the first of six tough contests for WNC in Southern Nevada. The Wildcats also were edged by Glendale, Ariz., 8-7, and defeated by Central Arizona 6-3, South Mountain 13-5, Pima 20-2 and Chippola 8-3.
“We hung in there against some top teams,” said WNC Head Coach Leah Wentworth. “We played some teams that should give us a really good idea of what we are going to face in our conference.”
Injuries have hurt WNC’s depth and forced Wentworth to use her players in different positions. “When we put our solid nine in their positions, we’re going to be a really competitive team,” Wentworth said.
In the loss to Yavapai, WNC jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as sophomore Jennifer Quam singled, stole second base and scored on Sydney Darby’s groundout to short. Darby, a freshman out of Spanish Springs High School, made it 2-0 with a solo homer in the fourth.
Sophomore pitcher Ali Marie Lostra made the lead stand up by tossing four shutout innings. But she ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up a two-run double and a two-run homer after two were out.
The Wildcats’ four-hit attack also included a double by Alisha Nielsen and a single by Lostra.
Darby highlighted WNC’s six-hit output vs. Central Arizona, stroking three singles, scoring a run and knocking in another. Andrea Lee, a freshman from Reed High in Sparks, drove in the Wildcats’ other two runs and had two hits. Freshman pitcher Carlee Beck took the loss but fanned seven in going the distance.
WNC carried a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning against South Mountain, but nine walks and two hit batters swung the outcome.
Nielsen started in the circle, allowing just one hit while striking out four in four innings of work. Alexia Alley relieved in the fifth but was ineffective and Beck was summoned to finish the fifth and sixth innings.
Alia Cox helped stake the Wildcats to a 5-1 lead with a run-scoring single in a four-run fourth. Cox had two of WNC’s six hits and Nielsen scored two of her team’s five runs.
“We need to get stronger in the later innings,” Wentworth said.
In the one-run loss to Glendale, WNC found the hitting zone, launching 12 hits, including three homers. Darby smacked a three-run homer in the first, Jennifer Rechel hit a solo homer in the third and Caroline McCarthy swatted a two-run homer in the fourth.
“Offensively, we are doing a good job of putting the ball into play,” Wentworth said. But WNC went scoreless over the final three innings, leaving a runner on base in the fifth and sixth innings.
Nielsen led WNC with three hits, and Heather Septon contributed two. Lostra delivered 5 2/3 effective innings, yielding four hits while fanning four.
In a 20-2 setback to eighth-ranked Pima Community College of Tucson, Rechel rapped two hits and Darby belted a solo homer.
WNC took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning against Chipola of Marianna, Fla., but came out on the short end of an 8-3 final score. Chipola scored five in the sixth to snap a 3-3 tie. The Wildcats outhit Chippola 8-6 but seven errors hurt WNC’s cause. Only two of Chipola’s eight runs off WNC hurler Beck were earned.
Rechel hit her second homer of the season, and Nielsen and Septon combined for five hits. Nielsen was 3 for 3 with a run scored, and Septon was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
WNC will play seven games beginning Friday in Yuma, Ariz.
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