Posted: February 28, 2013
Western Nevada College saw a much different North Idaho team on Wednesday than it did a day earlier as the Cardinals used dominant pitching and power hitting to take both games of a Scenic West Athletic Conference softball doubleheader, 10-0 and 11-2.
Emily Perlich threw four innings of no-hit ball, and the Cardinals collected six extra-base-hits, including home runs by Shelby Carter and Amber Meyers, in the opener at Edmonds Sports Complex in Carson City. Carter and Kelsey LaVaute went deep in game two as the Cardinals scored nine times in the first three innings.
"We had a go get 'em attitude today," Carter said. "We came out positive, just a new day. We had to wipe yesterday and go forward."
The Wildcats, meanwhile, managed just five hits in the two games.
"They just had the momentum and we didn't," said WNC freshman catcher Sydney Darby, a Spanish Springs High graduate who remained on a home-run tear. "We tried to turn it around, but when your bats aren't really on, there's nothing you can do."
WNC's overall record dropped to 8-21, including 5-11 in SWAC games.
In the opener, North Idaho used two infield errors with two outs to set up a three-run triple by LaVaute to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Jennifer Quam, who stole five bases in a doubleheader sweep of North Idaho on Tuesday, left in the first inning after being hit on her left wrist on an inside pitch by Perlich. It was the same injured wrist that Quam had been wearing a protective cast on in prior games. Quam, a North Valleys High grad, was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. The injury forced Wildcat coach Leah Wentworth to move outfielder/pitcher Ali Marie Lostra to third base and switch regular third baseman Heather Septon to center field.
"That combination of everything that went down that first inning kind of took us out of our flow, and they just need to get better at learning how to handle that adversity and not letting it carry into other innings," Wentworth said.
Perlich retired 10 Wildcats in a row after plunking Quam. The sophomore repeatedly hit the outside corner with her fastball and mixed in a few offspeed pitches to keep the Wildcats off balance. In the third inning, Carter's solo homer to dead center field put North Idaho ahead 4-0.
Carlee Beck relieved Alexia Alley in the fifth, and after allowing a leadoff double to Shanika Sawyer, she retired the next three hitters to keep the score at 6-0.
Beck broke up Perlich's no-hitter in the fifth, hitting an outside pitch to right field. Alisha Nielsen followed with a hard shot past the shortstop into left field. With two outs, Lostra was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Madison Gonzalez grounded out to short to end the threat.
Perlich finished with a two-hit shutout and nine strikeouts.
"We were taking too many good pitches early in the count, and we weren't aggressive early in the count, so we were putting ourselves at a disadvantage offensively," Wentworth said.
The Cardinals continued their extra-base barrage early in the second game. Carter socked a two-run homer in the first inning and LaVaute blasted a solo homer to center to lead off the second for a 3-0 North Idaho lead.
Carter picked up her third RBI in two at-bats with a double past the glove of diving second baseman Gonzalez in the third. The hit was part of a six-hit, six-run rally that pushed the Cardinals in front 9-0.
North Idaho starting pitcher Laura Potts was a mystery to the Wildcats the first time through the batting order, with the exception of Septon. Septon's two-out double in the third was the Wildcats' first hit. Septon went to third on an errant pickoff throw and scored when shortstop Jenna Krum couldn't come up with Gonzalez's grounder, ending a scoreless drought spanning nine-plus innings.
In the fourth, Darby put some life back into the Wildcats by belting her 11th homer of the season, cutting the Cardinals' lead to 9-2.
"I just go up there and I try to hit grounders. I just want to put it in play," Darby said. "Because I have that mindset going in there, I'm not expecting to hit it, and that's why I do."
After crowding the plate earlier in the game, Darby made an adjustment for Potts throwing inside.
"The inside pitch was kind of jamming me, so I scooted off a little bit, and she threw it there," Darby said.
Darby hit a homer in each game of the Wildcats' 5-4 and 7-2 victories over the Cardinals on Tuesday.
"She's made some adjustments in her swing that have really given her a good range now where she is spraying the ball around," Wentworth said. "If she gets a good piece of that ball, she has a good chance of it going out."
Cara McCarthy followed Darby's homer with a smash off third baseman Desirae Tinoco to reach first, but left fielder Heather Bishop made a diving catch of Lostra's liner to prevent a larger rally.
Potts retired the Wildcats in order in the fifth to complete a three-hit mercy-rule victory.
The Wildcats continue SWAC play March 8-9 against Snow College in Ephriam, Utah.