CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina softball (7-13, 1-2 Southern Conference) used four homeruns, including a grand-slam by sophomore catcher Heather Chastain, to defeat Southern Conference rival Appalachian State (5-8, 2-1 SoCon) 13-4 in six innings Sunday.
Trailing 3-2, at the bottom of the second inning, Western Carolina had a huge inning in scoring seven runs and all but sealing the game. Three straight singles by Megan Crowe, Karley Harkey and Griffin loaded the bases. The Catamounts scored two runs on an Appalachian error throwing home. After Scotton ground out and Steinhardt hit into a fielder's choice, that saw Griffin out at home, Haley Pace drew a walk to load the bases again. Chastain strolled to the plate and smoked a shot over the centerfield wall, her second grand-slam homerun of her career. Freshman Taylor Sigmon followed with a homerun of her own, the second of the season for her.
After Appalachian State scored in the first three innings, the Catamount defense and sophomore pitcher Jordan Garrett held the Mountaineers scoreless in the ensuing three innings. After giving up a run in the third inning, to give Appalachian State the 3-2 lead, Garrett hunkered down and sat down the nine of the next 14 batters she faced including striking out four.
Western Carolina shortened the game by one inning scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to invoke the ruling that if a team is leading by eight runs after five innings the game is called.
The Catamounts hit their third and fourth homeruns of the game to end the contest in six innings. Pinch hitter Chandler Terrapin drew a walk and scored when Haley Pace hit a homerun to centerfield. Chastain singled past the short-stop, and after Kayla Meyers came into the game to pinch run for Chastain, Megan Crowe hit the first homerun of her Catamount career to score two more runs and end the game.
Garrett had seven strikeouts in the game giving up four runs on eight eights and walked five. She improved to 5-7 on the season.
Neither team wasted anytime scoring to start the game. In an almost mirror image of each other, both Western Carolina and Appalachian State found themselves with bases loaded in the first inning. Catamount pitcher Garrett and Appalachian State hurler Shivaun Landeros worked out of the jam but not unscathed.
With one out, the Mountaineers had a single by Cynthia Gomez and a double by Allie Cashion. Lindsay Loudermilk drew a walk to load the bases. Garrett got the second out of the inning when she fanned Meaghan Smith but walked Ashley Seering to give Appalachian State a 1-0 lead. Alex Sohl ground out to end the inning.
The Catamounts got their chance in the bottom of the first when they found themselves with bases loaded and no outs. Back-to-back singles by Amelia Griffin and Jordan Fulton coupled with a walk by Shemekia Scotton loaded the bases. Mountaineer pitcher Landeros walked senior Amber Steinhardt to knot the game at one. With two outs, freshman Taylor Sigmon laced a shot up the middle to score Jordan Fulton. Scotton tried to leg out two bases for a third run but was thrown out at home.
Garrett continued to struggle on the mound for Western Carolina in the top of the second. She gave a lead-off walk to Caroline Rogers and Dani Heichen singled. Sarah Warnock tied the game at two on a single to left field. Garrett got a huge strikeout when she sat down Cashion but Loudermilk laced a shot to left field to give the Mountaineers the lead back 3-2.
Appalachian State tacked on a single run in the top of the third inning. Garrett kept the Mountaineers from tacking on additional runs by picking up three strikeouts. The Mountaineers would not score again.
Landeros was replaced on the mound in the second inning by Alissa Schoelkopf who went 4 innings. Landeros took the loss and falls to 3-3 on the year.
After going the first 12 games of the season without a homerun, Western Carolina has hit one or more homeruns in five of the last eight games.
Chastain, Sigmon and Crowe each has a pair of hits in the game and Chastain had for RBI.
Western Carolina returns to action on Wednesday in a non-conference tilt with Winthrop. First pitch of the doubleheader, at the Catamount Softball Complex, is set to begin at 2 p.m.