March 5, 2014
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Sophomore Karley Harkey's walk-off RBI single pushed Western Carolina softball (6-11) to a 4-3, in nine innings, victory over Charlotte (8-8) Wednesday in the Catamounts' home opener at the Catamount Softball Complex.
Western Carolina used the short game to place runners on first and second, with one out, in the bottom of the ninth to set up the win. Freshman Whitney Haywood singled to second base and senior Amelia Griffin followed with a single, beating out the throw to first. This set up Harkey who hit a frozen rope to first base. The ball went right past the first baseman and allowed Haywood to motor around third and just beat out the throw home.
Knotted at three, after seven innings, Western Carolina and Charlotte went into extra innings. The teams decided against The International Tie-Breaker rule of putting a runner on second in extra innings, to play through since it was just a single game. Sophomore Taylor Sigmon came into the game in relief pitching role at the top of the ninth to hold the 49ers scoreless. She opened the inning with a strikeout and then gave up a single to Samantha Slade. After forcing a pop-up to first base, Sigmon got Jessica Plemmons to hit into fielder's choice with Slade out on the play.
Sigmon earned her second win on the season, 2-0, as she entered the game with the score tied.
Charlotte took the early 2-0 lead scoring a pair of runs in the top of the third. Starting Catamount pitcher Courtney Buchanan gave up three straight doubles to allow the 49ers to post the two runs. Junior Jordan Garrett replaced Buchanan with two outs and struck out the last batter to end the inning.
Western Carolina took its first lead of the game when it scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth with one swing of the bat. Haywood led off the fifth with a single through the left side. Griffin laid down a sacrifice bunt that landed perfectly just to the left side of home plate, and beat out the play to reach first. With runners on first and second, Harkey hit into a fielder's choice that erased Haywood at third. Kara Salvo gave the Catamounts the lead when she sailed a three run homerun over the left field wall. It was Salvo's third homerun on the season.
Charlotte tied the game at three in the top of the seventh. With one out, Charlotte hit back-to-back singles and got the bases loaded when Slade was hit by a pitch. Courtney Kleinsmith ground out to Harkey at short-stop but a runner scored to tie the game. Plemmons hit into a fielder's choice as Plemmons was called for interference running to third to end the inning.
Buchanan went 2.2 innings giving up two runs on five hits and struck out two. Garrett, in a reliever role, went 5.1 innings yielding one run on three hits and struck out six.
Western Carolina had 12 hits in the game. Griffin went 3-for-4 in the game while Harkey, Sigmon, Price and Haywood each had a pair of hits. With Salvo's homerun, her only hit in the game, she has now hit safely in the last 14 games.
The Catamounts will play in its final regular season tournament of the season when it travels to Orlando, Fla. to compete in the UCF Spring Fling hosted by the University of Central Florida March 7-19. Western Carolina opens the tournament Friday at 6 p.m. against UT Martin.