Feb. 22, 2014
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Western Carolina softball (1-6) weathered a furled comeback attempt by Liberty (2-8), in the top of the seventh inning, to defeat the Flames 8-7 Saturday in the Spartan Classic.
Western Carolina looked to be cruising into the top of the seventh inning, after posting five runs in the bottom of the sixth, breaking a 3-3 tie to lead Liberty 8-3. The Flames had other ideas as they strung together four runs in the top of the seventh to claw to within one run, 8-7. With two outs, Liberty had the tying run on second and had freshman relief pitcher Courtney Buchanan on the ropes. Sophomore pitcher Mallory Broome came into the game and forced Flame catcher Kelby Allen to line out and end the game.
Broome's appearance not only secured a win for Western Carolina but gave her a save. Buchanan, who came into the game with the scored tied at three, earns her first win as a Catamount with a record of 1-0.
Tied at three, after Liberty came back from a 0-3 deficit, Western Carolina looked to put the game out of reach posting five runs in the bottom of the sixth. The fifth run, Brooke Coggins scoring on a Liberty throwing error, proved to be the insurance run Western Carolina needed.
Courtney Price opened the bottom of the sixth reaching first on a Liberty error and moved to second. Whitney Haywood's bunt single pushed Price to third for runners at the corners. With one out, after Amelia Griffin flew out to left field, sophomore short stop Karley Harkey sent Price home on an RBI single through the left side.
A wild pitch by Liberty hurler, Annah Jo Brittingham and a walk to Catamount Kara Salvo loaded the bases for Western Carolina with one out. Brooke Coggins' hit an RBI single to centerfield scoring Haywood and Harkey. For the second time in the game, a Liberty fielder's choice with Taylor Sigmon at the plate notched her an RBI.
Leading since the first inning, when with bases loaded Taylor Sigmon notched an RBI off a fielder's choice, Western Carolina weathered a Liberty comeback in the later innings. The Catamounts built a 3-0 lead scoring a run in the first and two in the second, and then their offense stalled.
Western Carolina added two runs in the top of the second inning. With one out Price reached on a Liberty fielding error and moved to second. Haywood laid down a sacrifice bunt and Price moved to third. After Amelia Griffin drew a walk, the Catamounts executed a double steal as Griffin swiped second and Price stole home. Harkey's first career triple plated Griffin for the second run.
Liberty used Western Carolina's offensive chill to whittle away at the Catamount lead. The Flames scored a run in the third and runs in the fifth and sixth inning to tie the game.
Western Carolina used all four pitchers in the game against Liberty. Western Carolina career strikeout leader Jordan Garrett started the game and went four innings giving up one run on five hits and struck out five.
In the fifth inning, Garrett was replaced by Sigmon. After five innings without allowing a run in relief, Sigmon gave up two runs on two hits and Liberty tied the game. Sigmon was replaced by freshman hurler Courtney Buchanan who weathered the Liberty come-back attempt in the top of the seventh. Buchanan held on for her first win as a Catamount and Broome got the save.
Western Carolina had 12 hits in the game, a season-high, with Harkey posting a season-high four hits and two RBI. Heather Chastain added two hits. The Catamounts will face Liberty again on Sunday at 11 a.m. and close out the tournament at 1 p.m. against Winthrop.