Heather Septon wonâ€™t ever forget her sophomore appreciation day at Western Nevada College.
Septon slugged two home runs and knocked in seven runs as the Wildcats lost a 16-12 slugfest to College of Southern Nevada in the teamâ€™s final home softball game Saturday at Edmonds Sports Complex in Carson City.
Septon also delivered with her bat in the first game of the Scenic West Athletic Conference doubleheader, a 10-6 loss, with two hits and two RBI. She finished the day with six hits, including four for extra bases, nine RBI and four runs scored.
â€œDefinitely, Iâ€™ll remember this,â€ Septon said. â€œIt was a great opportunity for me. I was having a good day in the first game, and this last game, to come out with a bang my last year on this field.
â€œIt felt really good against pitchers like this. Iâ€™ve seen them all weekend, and I was finally getting the timing down. It felt good to come out on top personally, but it (hurts) that we didnâ€™t come out on top as a team. We did our best and we fought hard all day.â€
Sophomore first baseman Andi Lee also made the most of her final home games in a Wildcats uniform by belting a two-run homer to trigger a 5-for-7 performance at the plate. Lee also collected four RBI and scored four runs.
Lee, a former player at Reed High School in Sparks, has gone from a bench role earlier in the season to being the teamâ€™s cleanup hitter.
â€œAt the beginning, I was struggling a little bit with my bat. I feel like I have turned it around a lot and Iâ€™ve been work on it extremely so, â€œLee said. â€œI think Iâ€™ve come around, and the coaches have seen that.â€
With a steady wind blowing out to center field, the conditions and effect were like a windy day at Chicagoâ€™s Wrigley Field. Home runs were flying out of Edmonds from the first inning of the opening game. The teams combined for five homers in the first game and 10 more in game two.
â€œWith the wind blowing out like it was, we really needed to try to do our best to get groundballs out of them, but they do a pretty good job adjusting across the board,â€ said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. â€œWe put up a good battle, but itâ€™s hard to give teams like that the long ball.â€
Lee belted a two-run in the first inning of the opener to put WNC on top, 2-1. Lee fouled off five pitches before lining a fastball well over the left-field fence.
â€œI was just looking to get a base hit. I was down in the count, and I was just thinking, â€˜Base hit; Iâ€™m not going to strike out,â€™â€ Lee said.
Septon helped diffuse CSNâ€™s first-inning rally by throwing out Mikela Manewa trying to steal second base.
Back-to-back doubles by Septon and Lindsey Ashbaugh extended the Wildcatsâ€™ lead to 3-1 in the second inning. Coyote pitcher Megan Mello, however, fanned three straight Wildcats to strand Ashbaugh on third base.
Tiani Hensley took a Beck offering just inside the left-field foul pole for a solo homer in the third inning, cutting WNCâ€™s lead to 3-2.
The Coyotes put three hits to use in the third inning to tie the score, but Beck prevented a big inning by retiring CSNâ€™s top two hitters in the lineup with the bases loaded. Presley Whetmanâ€™s ground-rule double to center chased home Sarina Creswell to knot the score. However, after walking the No. 9 hitter to fill the bases, Beck struck out Ariel Frantz with a third-strike off-speed pitch and then got Hensley on a groundout to second baseman Katilyn Covione.
In the fifth inning, Rhiana Balaunâ€™s homer off the scoreboard in left field enabled CSN to retake the lead, 4-3. However, Beck stranded runners on first and second bases to keep the score tight.
The Wildcats knocked Mello from the game in the fifth, scoring three times. Lee took an outside pitch into right field to score Katelyn Bomar with the tying run. Then, with Covione on third base and Lee on second, Septon slugged a two-run double to left, pushing WNC ahead 6-4.
Beck got the first two outs in the sixth, but after a disputed play at first, Hensley reached first base when three Wildcat infielders were unable to come up with a pop fly in front of the plate. Manewa capitalized on the mistake by drilling a Beck offering over the center-field fence for a game-tying homer.
In the bottom of the sixth, Madi Gonzalez beat out a bunt just to the right of the plate and took second on Bomarâ€™s sacrifice bunt. However, left fielder Whetman made a shoestring catch of Covioneâ€™s fly ball to end the threat.
CSN loaded the bases with no one out in the seventh, and Beck nearly got out of it unscathed. Whetmanâ€™s fly ball was flagged down by Gonzalez, and WNC challenged whether pinch-runner Jillian Rock left third base early after tagging up. The Wildcats won the appeal for the second out, keeping the score tied, but pinch-hitter Lauren Lesniak found a hole in right-center field, driving in Creswell for the go-ahead run. Next, Beck had two strikes on Frantz before she swatted a three-run homer to center to give the Coyotes some breathing room, 10-6.
WNC put two baserunners on to start last of the seventh but was unable cash in either runner against reliever Nicole Lesniak. Lesniak gave up two hits during 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn the victory.
In game two, the Wildcats spotted the Coyotes a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Hensleyâ€™s second homer of the afternoon, a two-run shot to left-center field, put the Coyotes in front early.
But their lead didnâ€™t last long.
In the bottom of the inning, WNCâ€™s hitting stars from the first game, Lee and Septon, produced extra-base hits. Leeâ€™s two-bagger to the gap in left-center field scored Gonzalez. Aly Lamboo was one out from getting out of the opening frame when Septon launched a go-ahead, three-run homer to center field.
WNC added to its 4-3 lead with four more runs in the second inning, chasing Lamboo. A two-run single by Covione and run-scoring base hit by Septon put WNC ahead 8-3.
The Coyotes continued to play long ball to creep closer in the third inning. Aimee Alpa and Vanessa Sanders hit the Coyotesâ€™ sixth and seventh roundtrippers of the day to cut WNCâ€™s lead to 8-6.
Covione struck out Mia Acuna after the Coyotes put runners on second and third bases with two outs. It was her fifth strikeout of the game.
Septonâ€™s second three-run homer of the game put WNC ahead 11-6 in the fourth, but the lead didnâ€™t last long.
CNC hit four homers in the fifth inning to move in front, 12-11.
â€œThe wind was taking it all day,â€ Septon explained.
Alpa hit her second homer of the game to start the rally, then Frentz connected with a three-run homer to center and Hensley followed with her fourth homer of the day to tie the score.
Beck relieved Covione after the third homer of the inning. She gave up a tie-breaking solo home run to Balaun before getting out of the inning with CSN ahead by a run.
CSN scored four more runs in the sixth, three coming on Manewaâ€™s home run to center. Manewa was the sixth different Coyote to hit a home run in the second game.
â€œThey really do have a lot of depth in their lineup and thatâ€™s what made them so effective all year, that and they donâ€™t have an easy out anywhere. Everyone is a tough out, and everyone can hit the long ball,â€ Wentworth said.
The Wildcats finished sixth in the SWAC with a 9-38 record and 12-44 overall. WNC will open the Region 18 Tournament at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Twin Falls, Idaho.