March 14, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina softball (10-14, 1-0 Southern Conference) clipped Elon (15-7-1, 0-1 SoCon) 4-3 in 10 innings Friday at the Catamount Softball Complex.
Knotted at three, in the bottom of the 10th inning, the International Tie-Breaker Rule was in effect, placing a runner on second base. Elon elected to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases with Catamounts.
This tactic worked earlier in the game for the Phoenix. Elon walked Western Carolina third baseman Taylor Sigmon with two outs, and runner on second and third with two outs, in the bottom of the seventh. Phoenix pitcher Caitlin O'Shea forced Courtney Buchanan to pop up for the third out.
It did not fall in the Phoenix's favor in the bottom of the 10th. With the bases loaded, and one out, Brooke Coggins hit a line drive to first base. The hit was too much for Elon first baseman Grace Eng to handle - she bobbled the ball allowing Sigmon to beat the throw and score the Catamounts' winning run.
Western Carolina is 3-0 in extra-inning games this season.
The Catamounts took an early 2-0 lead scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, freshman Kara Salvo drew a walk. Sigmon singled up the middle and Salvo moved to third. Buchanan notched an RBI single to score Salvo and Amber Kimrey followed with a single RBI up the middle to plate Sigmon.
Western Carolina's early lead knocked starting Elon pitcher Chelsea White out of the game. She was replaced by Caitlin O'Shea. After getting the third out, in the first inning, O'Shea would pitch the remainder of the game.
Elon would trim the Catamount lead to one scoring a run in the top of the second. The Phoenix would take the lead thanks to a Carleigh Nester homerun off Catamount starting pitcher Jordan Garrett.
After Garrett gave up three runs in the first three innings of the game, the Western Carolina career strikeout leader buckled down and held the Phoenix scoreless through the next seven innings.
Western Carolina forced extra innings when it scored the tying run in the bottom of the fifth. Karley Harkey drew a one out walk. Courtney Price laid down a bunt single and pushed Harkey to third on a Phoenix error. A sacrifice fly to right field by Salvo scored Harkey and tied the game at three. Elon had a prime scoring opportunity in the top of the seventh. The Phoenix had bases loaded and one out after Garrett gave up a one out single and back-to-back walks. Garrett got out the jam by recording back-to-back strikeouts to end the Elon scoring opportunity. The Catamounts had its own chance to end the game in regulation with bases loaded and two outs. Buchannan popped up to the second baseman to end the inning.
After an uneventful eighth and ninth inning, Elon had a huge scoring chance again in the top of the 10th. With O'Shea placed on second for Elon, as she was the final out in the top of the ninth, she moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. After Garrett yielded a walk, Elon had runners at first and third with one out. Aly Quintana attempted a sacrifice fly but O'Shea was called for leaving early at third, and Quintana was out on the fly out to end the inning.
Garrett tossed a season-high 10 innings and improves to 3-9 on the year. She gave up three runs on seven hits and struck out eight. O'Shea takes the loss for Elon falling to 4-2.
Sigmon was 2-for-4 and also scored two of Western Carolina's four runs. Price was also 2-for-4. Harkey's single in the seventh inning extends her hitting streak to nine games.
Western Carolina will host Elon in a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. at the Catamount Softball Complex.