April 12, 2014

WNC Splits Twin Bill with Colorado Northwestern

Wildcats Smack School-Record 22 Hits

It was the type of half inning that Western Nevada College softball players won’t soon forget. Thirteen Wildcats came to the plate in the fourth inning, with nine of them hitting their way on base. By the time the damage was done, eight Wildcats had crossed the plate, turning a 3-1 deficit into a 9-3 lead.

The big rally inspired the Wildcats to swat a school-record 22 hits en route to a 14-6 Scenic West Athletic Conference victory and a doubleheader split with the Colorado Northwest Community College Spartans on Saturday in Rangely, Colo.

"It was the best offensive game the program has ever had," said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. "They were seeing the ball well and connecting solidly. It was really fun to watch."

On five occasions in the program’s history, the Wildcats have produced 16 hits. The team’s record for runs is 19, which was set against Colorado Northwestern in 2009.

The Spartans won Saturday’s opener 11-9, using a six-run fifth inning to overtake the Wildcats.

Sophomore Andi Lee pounded three doubles during a 5-for-5 hitting performance that also included four RBI.

Seven of the Wildcats’ hits went for extra bases, with Makenzie Hospodka smacking a pair of doubles.

Every player in the Wildcats’ lineup had at least one hit. Katelyn Bomar was 4 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBI, Cara McCarthy went 3 for 5 with a run scored and a RBI, Hospodka was 3 for 5 with three runs scored and a RBI and Jenny Rechel and Heather Septon each went 2 for 4 with two runs scored.

Wentworth said that the team's batting practice on Saturday served as a preview to the record-setting performance.

“They were really looking comfortable at the plate and driving ball really well," she said. "I thought it was going to be a really good day at the pate."

Freshman pitcher Katilyn Covione was the beneficiary of the Wildcats’ surplus of hits and runs. For the second straight day, Covione earned a complete-game victory. She gave up 12 hits and two earned runs, while fanning four and walking five.

The bountiful fourth inning started with a base hit to left field by Hospodka. Lee then stroked the first of her two two-baggers in the inning, scoring Hospodka. Rechel’s base hit to right field sent Lee to third base. Septon’s double scored Lee to tie the score at 3 and moved Rechel to third base.

WNC took a 4-3 lead on a bunt single by Madi Gonzalez. Bomar’s RBI base hit put the Wildcats ahead 5-3 and enabled Gonzalez to motor into third base. McCarthy kept the hits coming, plating Gonzalez with a base hit to center field. Bomar swiped third base and scored on Covione’s fielder’s choice.

Hospodka and Lee harvested the final two runs of the inning with RBI doubles.

After the Spartans scored twice in their half of the fourth to close within 9-5, the Wildcats’ hitting assault resumed. Septon tripled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Gonzalez. Covione added a sacrifice fly to re-establish a six-run Wildcat lead, 11-5.

Hospodka and Lee stroked back-to-back doubles to start the sixth, putting WNC in front 12-5. Later in the inning, Bomar rapped a run-scoring single for a 13-5 WNC lead.

Lee knocked her fifth hit, a run-scoring single in the seventh inning.

Through the first 42 games of the season, WNC leadoff hitter Gonzalez didn’t have a chance to show off her home-run trot. The sophomore from Winnemucca actually perfected that trot on Saturday as she hit her first two home runs of her college career in a defeat to the Spartans.

"They were two rock-solid hits and driven pretty well," Wentworth said, noting that blasts traveled over a 15-foot-hight fence in center field.

Wentworth said that she converted Gonzalez to a left-handed hitter her freshman season to take advantage of her speed from the left side of the plate. Last year, Gonzalez used the short game to reach base, but this season, her power has been evident.

"She bought in the entire time what we were teaching her," Wentworth said. "For her to get back-to-back homers from the left side, it was awesome for both of us."

The top three hitters in the Wildcats’ batting order combined for seven hits and seven RBI. Covione was 3 for 5 with three RBI, Gonzalez was 2 for 5 with two runs scored and four RBI and McCarthy went 2 for 5. Hospodka had two hits and scored twice.

Carlee Beck was the hard-luck loser, giving up eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. Only four of the 11 runs scored against Beck were earned.

WNC went ahead 7-5 in the top of the fifth inning, but things came apart for the Wildcats in the bottom of the inning.

Following a home run by Hailee Meacham to lead off the inning, the Wildcats committed four errors and hit two batters as the Spartans scored six times to go ahead, 11-7.

Gonzalez, who came into the series with a team-leading .352 batting average, erased a 4-3 CNCC lead with a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Gonzalez also homered in the third inning.

After the Spartans pulled within a run in their half of the fourth, the Wildcats came back to take a 7-5 lead in the fifth. Hospodka continued her power-hitting tear with a double. A base hit by Lindsey Ashbaugh moved Hospodka to third base, and she came around to score on a single by Rechel.

Covione homered to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard first in the opening frame. It was her second roundtripper of the season.

WNC crept to within 11-9 on Covione’s two-out, two-run double in the seventh, but McCarthy’s infield pop fly ended the game.

Katie Mankau led CNCC with one hit and three RBI.

The Wildcats, 8-27 in the SWAC and 11-33 overall, play host to North Idaho on Friday and Saturday at Edmonds Sports Complex. WNC hasn’t played a home game since March 8.

“It’s been tough,” Wentworth said. “It feels like forever since we've played at home. It will be nice to get a little home-field advantage and to see if we can carry over our offense from last weekend to this weekend. Our defense has been a little bit of the wild card. When they play solid defense, they are a tough team to beat."

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