March 31, 2012
Game 1 Box Score
Game 2 Box Score
CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Big innings, and grand-slam homerun by freshman catcher Heather Chastain, shot Western Carolina softball (13-21, 3-5 Southern Conference) to a 4-3, 5-0 Southern Conference doubleheader sweep of Furman (12-23, 3-8 SoCon) Saturday at the Catamount Softball Complex.
The Catamounts also benefitted from strong pitching performances by both starting pitchers, Katie King and Amber Steinhardt. Western Carolina also got a strong short stint from Jordan Garrett, who came into relief in the first game to earn a save.
Western Carolina was in the hole early, in the first game, when King gave up a solo homerun to Jessie Homesley in the first inning. It was the first of two homeruns by Homesley in the game, as she accounted for two-thirds of the Furman's run production.
After Western Carolina went scoreless in the first inning, the Catamounts exploded for four runs with one mighty swing of Chastain's bat. WCU found itself with bases loaded when Morgan Wyatt led off the inning with a single up the middle. Steinhardt followed with a single to left field placing runners at first and second. With one out, Makenzi McAteer singled to shortstop to load the bases. After Jordan Fultonflied out to shallow left field, Chastain took Furman pitcher Hannah Bradley's offering over the left field wall. It was Chastain's first collegiate homerun and the Catamounts' first grand-slam of the season.
In the sixth inning, Homesley hit her second homerun of the game when she lead-off with a solo shot to right field. After a Catamount error and an RBI single by Emily Boyer, Furman cut the Western Carolina lead to one, 4-3. King was replaced by Garrett who ended the inning with a strikeout and forcing the final Paladin batter to pop up for the third out.
Garrett made things a little interesting in the top of the seventh, with WCU leading 4-3. After getting Hope Smith to strike out, she gave up a walk to Ambree Muller and Nikki Legg singled past the shortstop. This brought up Homesley who had homered in her pervious two at bats. Garrett got Homesley to line out to second base and Lauren Collier to ground out to second base to end the game.
King picked up the win, improving to 4-6, going 5.1 innings allowing three runs on five hits and striking out six. Wyatt and Steinhardt each had two hits in the game.
Steinhardt got the starting nod in the second game and picked up her first shutout of the season. She allowed six hits, struck out two, and evened her record to 4-4.
The offense and the defense were behind Steinhardt to assist her in her shutout. In the top of the third, Furman looked to strike first in scoring, after two scoreless outings. Alex Bimonte led off with a single for Furman and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Homesley singled to left field and Bimonte tried to go home on the play, but she was out at home from a perfect throw by Erin Foster, who gunned the throw to Chastain for the third out.
Western Carolina used the bang-bang defensive play high to turn it into an offensive excursion in its half of the third inning. Jordan Fulton led off with a single to right field and Chastain reached on a Furman error to place runners at first and second. With one out, Foster singled up the middle to score Fulton. Furman committed its second error of the inning, allowing Chastain and Foster to score. Kelly Braman'sRBI single, to right field, scored Wyatt for the fourth run of the inning.
The Catamounts added a run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Wyatt doubled past the shortstop to lead off the inning, and scored on an RBI double by Braman.
Steinhardt had a quiet fourth and fifth inning, sitting down six straight batters. She got into a bit of jam in the top of the sixth. She walked Alexis Galinski and gave up a single to Legg for runners at first and second. With one out Collier hit a single to load the bases. Steinhardt got out of the inning with a pair of nifty plays by left fielder Fulton.
Furman looked to rally in the top of the seventh when Muller led off with a single. Lakyn Shull hit into a fielder's choice in which Steinhardt threw out Muller at second. Steinhardt came back to strike out Bimonte and forced Galinslki to ground out to third to end the game.
After struggling at the plate, Foster bounced back to go 3-for-3 in the second game with a run scored and an RBI. Wyatt and Braman each had a pair of hits.
Western Carolina will look for the series sweep of Furman on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.