Wildcats Make Bruins Work for Wins
One team left Edmonds Sports Complex on Saturday with a 16-game winning streak and the other walked away with an eight-game losing streak. But top-ranked Salt Lake Community College and four-game softball series with Western Nevada College in Carson City was anything but one-sided.
After extending the Bruins to nine innings on Friday in the opener of a doubleheader loss, the Wildcats weren’t overmatched on Saturday either in a second Scenic West Athletic Conference doubleheader. Salt Lake broke a 3-3 tie with a four-run fourth inning to win the opener, 7-3.
In game two, WNC took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, then fell behind 4-1. But the Wildcats battled back to within two runs before the Bruins pulled away late for 10-2 victory. Whitney Holt smacked a pair of solo homers to keep the Bruins unbeaten in conference action.
“I credit them. They’ve always been competitive and feisty,” said Salt Lake coach Mary Kay Amicone. “We always know we have a battle.”
Salt Lake improved its overall record to 18-3, including 12-0 in SWAC play. The Wildcats, who started conference by squaring off with the top two teams, dropped to 3-18 and 0-8.
The series was originally scheduled to be played in Salt Lake City but was moved to Carson City because of a layer snow on the Bruins’ field.
WNC coach Leah Wentworth said her pitchers’ ability to strand Bruins on the bases and the stabilizing of her defense made things interesting. The Bruins left 12 runners on base in the opener, including the bases loaded three times, and 13 more in game two.
“We’re all really excited about what this team can do, especially with some more games under belt,” Wentworth said.
“They are a young group, so we’re all trying to come together and get to know one another. For them to hang in there in a series against such a tough team, it gives us a lot of hope of what we can do this season and what we can accomplish in the next half of the season.”
In the second inning, Salt Lake broke a scoreless tie by pushing three runs across the plate three. A two-run base hit by Lauryn Kirschner plated Lyndsey Healey and Holt. The Bruins loaded the bases with two outs, and Tanisha Anderson delivered a RBI single to center to make the score 3-0.
Wildcat starting pitcher Ali Marie Lostra, however, used a sprinting grab by Jennifer Quam in the left-center field gap to prevent a big Bruin inning.
“In the early innings, I thought I did well, but they just started to get my timing,” Lostra said. “The pitching change really helped. Lexi (Alley) came in with a different look, a different speed, and then when I came back in, their timing was off.”
WNC battled back with three runs of its own in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of Bruin starting pitcher McCauley Flint’s lapse in control. With one out, Caroline McCarthy and Alisha Nielsen walked. Next, Lostra just missed a homer to left-center, a blast that allowed McCarthy to score from second base. The throw home allowed Nielsen and Lostra to take an extra base. After Jennifer Rechel fanned, Heather Septon walked on a full count to load the bases. Leadoff hitter Quam’s sharp grounder went under the glove of second baseman Payton Palmer, enabling Nielsen and Lostra to cross the plate and even the score at 3.
After a scoreless third, the Bruins retook the lead by scoring four runs. Doubles by Palmer, Woodard and Holt fueled the uprising.
“She keeps hitters off balance,” said Amicone of adjusting to Lostra. “It’s about being consistent, and our hitters need to make the adjustments.”
Holt’s two-bagger chased Lostra, bringing on Alley in relief. Alley got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice.
She stranded three baserunners in the fifth, getting a line drive to Sydney Darby and a fly out to Quam to keep the score at 7-3.
The Wildcats missed a chance to cut into the four-run deficit in the fifth, as Madison Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate following a fly out to left by McCarthy.
The Bruins also left the bases full in the sixth. Lostra re-entered and escaped the one-out jam on back-to-back fielder’s choice plays by Rechel.
“We’ve been doing a good job on the mound keeping these hitters off balance and being backed up by our defense,” Wentworth said. “We’ve gotten out of quite a few situations where they’ve had runners on base.”
Gonzalez, a freshman from Winnemucca, led the Wildcats by going 2 of 4 at the plate. Darby, Lostra and Rechel each had a hit.
In game two, WNC took a 1-0 in the first when McCarthy slugged a double to the gap in right-center to score Gonzalez.
But the Bruins responded by tallying three runs in the second. An RBI double by Woodward and a run-scoring infield hit by Williams put the Bruins on top against freshman pitcher Carlee Beck, who left four runners on base through two frames.
Holt started the third with a home run to dead center, giving the Bruins a 4-1 lead.
WNC pulled to within 4-2 in the third as Quam started a rally with a double to the fence in center. She went to third on a Gonzalez bunt and scored headfirst on a wild pitch. After Andrea Lee walked, Salt Lake went to its bullpen, bringing in hard-throwing Kailey Christensen. Christensen quickly extinguished the rally with a force out and strikeout.
Woodard’s RBI double off the fence in left-center and an unearned run established a 6-2 Salt Lake edge in the fourth and three runs in the seventh put the Bruins in command.
WNC’s Quam, Lostra, McCarthy and Septon each collected a double, and McCarty was 2 for 4. The Wildcats left seven on base.
Lostra was dazzling in the series opener on Friday. She allowed just two hits through eight innings before the Bruins scored twice in the ninth on three hits.
“She threw well. She executed good pitches,” Amicone said.
It was Lostra’s most extended stint on the mound at WNC, and the second longest by a pitcher under Wentworth. The Wildcats had a chance to upset the Bruins for the second straight year when Lee barely missed a home run in the eighth. After her double off the fence, she was moved to third but stranded there.
“I thought we played a pretty solid game, and we had a chance to win it; we just didn’t get that one big hit,” Lostra said.
Wentworth made some changes after College of Southern Idaho needed only 4 ½ inning to take the first two games of a four-game sweep.
“Last weekend, we made some adjustments at the very end of our CSI series on our infield and some positioning,” Wentworth said. “Ever since then, we kind of found where people look the most comfortable and are going to help us the most.”
|Photos (Click to Enlarge)|
|Madison Gonzales||Jennifer Quam||Assistant Coach Sam Herceg|
|Ali Marie Lostra|
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