Western Nevada College missed an opportunity to move into fifth place in the Scenic West Athletic Conference softball standings on Saturday in Carson City.
Despite the control and effectiveness of freshman pitcher Katilyn Covione, the Wildcats dropped 5-3 and 4-1 decisions to the Snow College Badgers at Edmonds Sports Complex.
A doubleheader sweep would have moved WNC (6-13) in front of Snow (9-11).
â€œI was really happy with the performances of our pitchers in both games today. They gave us opportunities to win,â€ said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. â€œWhen you play close games like this, it comes down to a lot of little things, like running yourself off the bases or taking advantage of little opportunities like getting a sac fly.â€
The Wildcats struggled with run production in both ends of he doubleheader, leaving 16 runners on base.
â€œIt really came down to the production of the offense, not that we werenâ€™t putting the ball into play,â€ Wentworth said. â€œItâ€™s a matter of stringing them together and taking advantage of the opportunities when we have runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, it didnâ€™t go our way in that regard today.â€
In the opener, WNC scored in the first frame on a one-out RBI single by Jenny Rechel. The hit to center scored Makenzie Hospodka, who reached base when an infield pop fly with backspin was dropped. Madi Gonzalez put her teammate in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt that she beat out for an infield single.
Belle Stoddard kept the score at 1-0, getting a pop fly and strikeout to strand Wildcats at first and second bases.
WNC starting pitcher Lindsey Ashbaugh foiled Snow scoring chances in the first two innings. She stranded Ally McAfee on second base in the first inning and Sydney Butler and Nicole Weiss on second and third bases in the second inning.
But the Badgers pushed the tying run across the plate in the third on Weissâ€™ one-out RBI single.
The Badgers took their first lead in the fourth. Elise Sutherland lined a triple just out of the reach of diving center fielder Makenzie Hospodka, then came home on Renee Faggâ€™s sacrifice fly to center.
Ashbaugh tired in the fifth, and the first three Badgers reached base. Kenzie Rasmussenâ€™s run-scoring base hit put Snow ahead 3-1 and a two-run single to left off Covione moved the Badgers in front 5-1.
Stoddard ran into some trouble in the fifth as a base hit by Cara McCarthy, a walk to Hali Bennion and a hard grounder by Gonzalez that went through the shortstopâ€™s legs for an error filled the bases with two outs. But Meghan Hospodka, who hit a decisive three-run homer in the Wildcatsâ€™ victory on Friday, grounded out to third baseman Butler to stem the rally.
After being held to one hit by Stoddard in the second through fifth innings, the Wildcats finally did some more damage against the right-hander in the sixth. One-out singles by Ashbaugh and Andi Lee preceded a two-run double to left by Covione, cutting Snowâ€™s lead to 5-3.
â€œYesterday, we saw (Stoddard) saw, so I knew what to look for today,â€ Covione said. â€œYesterday, I wasnâ€™t looking at the ball as it came out of her hand. The second at-bat, I made an adjustment.â€
The Wildcats brought the potential tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Meghan Hospodka singled with two out, but cleanup hitter Rechel grounded out unassisted to first baseman Karlee Manzione to end the game.
Covione dazzled in relief of Ashbaugh, retiring eight of the 10 batters she faced. She allowed two hits and no runs in three innings.
â€œI just wanted to come in and keep it a close game and not let it get out of control and let our defense work,â€ she said. â€œI was hitting my spots and just making my pitches move.â€
Covione said after the opener that she had something left in her right arm, and she did.
With the teamâ€™s No. 1 pitcher, Carlee Beck. unavailable for Saturdayâ€™s doubleheader, Covione earned the start for game two.
â€œWe were (advised) by the trainer not to throw her today because her arm is a little strained,â€ Wentworth said. â€œCarlee has some tendinitis, and it flared up a bit.â€
Covione surrendered a run in each of the first four innings but scattered 10 hits and stranded seven on the bases during that span.
After the fourth inning, Covione gave up just one additional hit. She struck out two and didnâ€™t walk a hitter in either game.
Considering Wentworth signed Covione as a position player, her contributions on the mound have been a bonus.
â€œHonestly, when I signed Katilyn we werenâ€™t sure whether or not she would be part of the pitching rotation,â€ Wentworth said. â€œWe were really impressed with her from day one, and sheâ€™s made some good adjustments since we signed her.â€
Weiss knocked provided a RBI single in the first frame, McAfee rapped a run-scoring single in the second and Manzione delivered a RBI double in the third for a 3-0 Snow lead.
WNC left a runner on third base in each of the first two innings as Ashley Kay came up with the key pitches.
Snow went to its bullpen in the fifth inning, even though Kay tossed a four-hit shutout through four frames.
Reliever Taylor Allman yielded a base hit to center by Gonzalez to lead off the fifth but settled in to retire the Wildcatsâ€™ 2-3-4 hitters.
However, in the sixth, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out and elected to bring in Cara McCarthy off the bench as a pinch-hitter. McCarthyâ€™s sacrifice fly plated Lee with WNCâ€™s first run, but Allman was able to get out of the jam when Gonzalez grounded out.
Rashelle North closed out the sweep for the Badgers, turning away the Wildcats 1-2-3 in the seventh.
McAfee led the Badgers with three hits, a run scored and RBI.
Gonzalez, Lee and Katelyn Bomar each stroked a pair of hits for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats (9-19 overall) meet College of Southern Nevada on Friday and Saturday in Henderson.