March 1, 2014

Lee, Ashbaugh Ignite Final-Inning Rally

North Idaho Holds Off Wildcats in Bitter Cold Conditions

On an afternoon better suited for dog sledding and ice skating, the Western Nevada College Wildcats and North Idaho Cardinals gamely played a Scenic West Athletic Conference softball game on Saturday in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

With the game-time temperature in the mid-teens and the wind chill factor in single digits, the two teams were able to squeeze in the final game of their series.

North Idaho survived a seventh-inning rally to win its fourth straight against WNC, 7-3.

“I don’t know how the girls did it. I was in so many layers, and my hands were frozen,” WNC coach Leah Wentworth said. “It was miserable. I don’t know if it would be possible to play in anything worse than that.”

WNC scored all of its runs in the seventh inning, breaking up a shutout bid by Cardinal pitchers Tori Almos and Brittany Hecker. The duo carried a one-hitter into the final inning, but the Wildcats didn’t go away quietly, especially on their final out.

“We got our bats going at the end of the game, but it was a little too late, unfortunately,” Wentworth said.

Andi Lee knocked in a run with a single and Lindsey Ashbaugh doubled in another run to pull the Wildcats within 7-3. Then, Hecker won a long duel with Katilyn Covione, nailing down the win on a fly ball to right.

Covione started in the circle for the Wildcats and bounced back from a rough outing a day earlier.

“She was keeping them off-balance and giving us groundballs,” Wentworth said.

She recorded a 1-2-3 first inning for the Wildcats after surrendering 12 runs to the Cardinals in a three-inning stint on Friday.

North Idaho (10-6) snapped a scoreless tie in the fourth inning on Samantha Luna’s base hit to left field after two were out. Covione prevented the Cardinals from adding more by stranding baserunners on second and third.

However, Covione was unable to limit the damage during a fifth-inning jam. The Cardinals sent 14 hitters to the plate to score six times. A home run by Allison Paladeni and a run-scoring double by Hayley Fields highlighted the long rally.

Almos followed up her seven-inning shutout of the Wildcats on Friday with five scoreless innings on Saturday. The Wildcats made better contact against her in the second meeting, striking out three times after fanning 11 times on Friday.

Hecker replaced her in the sixth and struck out the side after allowing a walk to Ashbaugh.

“This year, they have a lot of depth on the mound,” Wentworth said. “Their pitching was a little bit better than we’ve seen this year.”

Ashbaugh reached base twice to lead off innings for the Wildcats. She had the Wildcats’ only hit off Almos in the third inning, a single to center field. The Carson High School product finished 2 for 2 with a RBI.

WNC fell to 5-10 in the SWAC and 8-16 overall. The Wildcats will look to bounce back when they host Snow College on Friday and Saturday at Edmonds Sports Complex.

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