They did everything but secure their first Scenic West Athletic Conference softball victory in a month.
Salt Lake pushed two runs across the plate in the seventh inning to rally for a 4-3 victory over the Western Nevada College Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Salt Lake City.
â€œTo have the lead all the way and to end it like that was devastating,â€ said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. â€œIâ€™m happy we put ourselves in position to win. We need experiences like that, and moving forward, we need to learn from it.â€
The Wildcats were two outs from salvaging the final contest of a four-game set against surging Salt Lake, ranked 24th in the most recent National Junior College Athletic Association poll. An 11-hit attack and a solid pitching performance by freshman Katilyn Covione put the Wildcats in position for the road upset following Salt Lakeâ€™s 11-3 opening-game victory.
After giving up 13 hits and five earned runs against Salt Lake on Friday, Covione confused the Bruin hitters a day later. Covione allowed six hits and struck out five.
Capitalizing on chances that they created throughout the series, the Wildcats scored three times in the first three innings.
Andi Lee hit a RBI single and Meghan Hospodka added a run-scoring fielderâ€™s choice to stake WNC to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Heather Septonâ€™s home run to left field upped WNCâ€™s lead to 3-0 in the third. It was the sophomoreâ€™s third homer of the season.
Salt Lake attempted to rally in the fifth. Chelsa Baca led off with a double to left field, only the Bruinsâ€™ third hit. After a sacrifice bunt by Courtney Beavers, Megan Reedâ€™s bunt single plated the Bruinsâ€™ first run.
Lindsey Ashbaugh and Covione started the Wildcat sixth with singles, but Bruin hurler Courtney Platt kept WNCâ€™s from extending its lead by retiring the next three hitters.
In the bottom of the sixth, KyRae Kogianes homered to slice WNCâ€™s lead to 3-2.
But Covione didnâ€™t buckle, striking out the next hitter, Bailie Nelson, throwing out Taylor Tann on a comebacker and fanning Kirsten Anderson looking.
â€œItâ€™s exciting to see her growth,â€ Wentworth said. â€œWeâ€™re confident that we have a couple of pitchers that can keep us in games down the stretch.â€
In the seventh, however, the Bruins rediscovered their offense with the help of the Wildcatsâ€™ first error of the game.
Bacaâ€™s base hit started the rally. A force out kept the potential tying on first base. But a free pass to Megan Reed, a wild pitch and an intentional walk to Payton Hart loaded the bases.
â€œWe had the opportunity to shut them down with a double play or go into an extra inning,â€ Wentworth said.
That stretegy set up Riana Splinterâ€™s hit to short that Meghan Hospodka misplayed, paving the way for the tying and winning runs to score.
â€œIt was a tough way to lose,â€ Wentworth said. â€œWe played some great defense until that last play. Unfortunately, it came at a bad time.â€
Lee led the Wildcatsâ€™ offense, going 3 for 4. Septon contributed two hits, two runs scored and a RBI.
â€œAndi and Heather were rock solid and tough outs all weekend,â€ Wentworth said. â€œThe last game it helped to move them up in the lineup and hopefully they can continue to stay hot.â€
In the opener, the â€œTann-ingâ€ the Wildcats received was more of a sunburn.
Salt Lake sophomore Tann knocked in six runs, including two with a home run, as the Bruins rallied from an early deficit.
Tannâ€™s two-run homer to center field squared the score at 2 in the second inning.
Salt Lake sent 11 hitters to the plate during a four-run third inning to build a 6-3 lead. Tannâ€™s two-run single with the bases loaded was the big blow of the game-changing inning. Tann did some more damage in the fourth, stroking a two-run base hit to push Salt Lakeâ€™s lead to 9-3.
The game marked the return of WNC sophomore pitcher Carlee Beck, who missed a month of action because of tendonitis to her right pitching arm.
Beck started well, retiring the Bruins in order in the first inning, but ran into trouble in the second through fourth innings.
After being held to two runs in two losses on Friday, the Wildcats came out swinging on Saturday.
Lee put the Wildcats ahead 2-0 with a two-run single with two outs in the first inning. The clutch hit scored Madi Gonzalez and Jenny Rechel.
Following Tannâ€™s two-run blast, Ashbaughâ€™s sacrifice fly scored Septon, allowing WNC to retake the lead, 3-2, in the third.
Beck (7-9) delivered the Wildcatsâ€™ last win, a six-hit, 3-1 victory over Snow on March 7.
Salt Lake improved to 27-10 in the SWAC and 27-13 overall, while WNC dropped to 6-25 and 9-31.