Darby Hits Record-Setting 17th Home Run in 7-1 Defeat
For most of their Region 18 softball tournament opener on Wednesday, the Western Nevada College Wildcats were poised to upset third-seeded College of Southern of Nevada.
But the Coyotes scored four runs in the fifth inning to snap a 1-1 tie en route to a 7-1 victory at tournament host College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.
"It was a tough one. It was one of the toughest losses we've had all season," said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. "We had so much momentum and energy."
Freshman catcher Sydney Darby (Spanish Springs High) pulled WNC into a 1-1 tie with a school-record-setting home run in the top of the fourth inning. The solo blast was Darby’s 17th homer of the season, breaking a record she shared with Taleas Marble.
CSN hurlers had been pitching Darby away starting last weekend, but she found a pitch to drive over the right-field fence.
"She hit it so well," said Wentworth, noting that the fence at the CSI field is 10-feet tall and 235 feet down the lines.
WNC (18-42 overall) will try to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament at 8:30 a.m. Thursday when it battles Colorado Northwestern in an elimination game.
After Darby’s tying homer in the fourth, WNC put Jennifer Rechel and Andrea Lee in scoring position with two outs, but a strikeout ended the rally.
In CSN’s pivotal fifth inning, Tiffani Taylor hit a sacrifice fly and Mikela Manewa stroked a two-run double to score Jasmine Fukuda and Erin Romero. Hope Curtis’ run-scoring single provided the Coyotes with their fourth run of the inning and a 5-1 lead.
The Coyotes added two insurance runs in the sixth on Manewa’s RBI single and Rhiana Balaun’s sacrifice fly.
The Wildcats had their offensive success against Coyote starting pitcher Breea Buckey, who allowed five hits in 3 1/3 innings. However, Alashanee Medina, who two-hit the Wildcats last weekend, quieted WNC’s bats the rest of way, allowing one hit in 3 2/3 innings of relief. She struck out four and walked two.
"It was a great call by their coach to change their pitcher because we were all over that (first) pitcher," Wentworth said.
Freshman Carlee Beck pitched the distance for the Wildcats, allowing 10 hits and five earned runs in six innings.
Darby collected two of WNC’s six hits, as well as a run scored and RBI. Rechel, Jennifer Quam. Alisha Nielsen and Madison Gonzalez each had a hit for the Wildcats.
WNC was seeking its first postseason victory in the five-year history of the program and was attempting to end a five-game losing streak to CSN. The Wildcats have struggled against CSN since winning three straight against the Coyotes in mid-March in Carson City.
The Coyotes (34-25) swept a four-game set from the Wildcats (18-41) on the final weekend of the regular season to run their winning streak to nine games. WNC was on a winning roll entering the final weekend of the regular season, having won seven of its previous 11 games.
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