CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina softball (13-25) earned its first doubleheader sweep of the season defeating Gardner-Webb (4-22) 8-7, 8-1 Wednesday at the Catamount Softball Complex.
The Catamounts hit a total of five homeruns in the pair of games including freshman shortstop Karley Harkey's first homerun of the season and sophomore Heather Chastain hitting a homerun in each of the games. Western Carolina's two wins against the Bulldogs halted a six-game losing streak for the Catamounts.
Western Carolina 8, Gardner-Webb 7
Trailing 7-2 Western Carolina exploded for six runs in its half of the sixth inning pounding in three homeruns.
Chastain broke open the scoring rally, in the sixth inning, hitting a lead-off homerun to trim the Bulldogs' lead to four. Senior Amber Steinhardt, not to be outdone, followed with her own solo shot to centerfield. Jordan Fulton continued the hitting frenzy with a single up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch by Alyssa Gutierrez who came into the game in the sixth replacing starting pitcher Ashley Rhyne. Pinch hitter Makenzi McAteer drew a walk and with runners on first and second Karley Harkey laid down a nice sacrifice bunt moving Fulton to third and McAteer to second.
With runners at second and third, Gutierrez threw her second wild pitch of the inning and Fulton came home scoring the Catamounts' third run of the inning. With the Catamounts still trailing 7-5, junior Amelia Griffin drew a walk and Western Carolina had runners at the corners. Freshman Taylor Sigmon gave the Catamounts its first lead, and eventual win, in the game with one swing when she hit a monster homerun over the centerfield wall with the three-run shot.
Leading 8-7, sophomore Jordan Garrett came back into the game to close out the contest. Garrett started the game and was replaced in the third inning by Steinhardt. In a strange turn of the game, Garrett would pick up the save in the game, her second of the season, and Steinhardt earned her second win improving to 2-1 on the year.
Garrett went three innings allowing five runs on five hits and struck out five. Steinhardt went four innings allowing two runs, five hits and struck out two.
Gardner-Webb broke open a scoreless game in the top of he third inning scoring five runs. The Catamounts trimmed the Bulldog lead to three when it got two runs back in the bottom of the third.
With two outs in the third, Sigmon singled through the right side and scored off an RBI double by Haley Pace. Chastain hit a single to right center that scored Pace.
Gardner-Webb added two runs in the top of the fifth.
Sigmon, Chastain and Steinahrdt each had two hits in the game.
Western Carolina 8, Gardner-Webb 1
Western Carolina didn't waste any time scoring in game two of the doubleheader with Gardner-Webb. Griffin led off the bottom of the first with a single and promptly stole second, her ninth stolen base of the season. With one out, Sigmon hit an RBI single to the right side scoring Griffin.
The Catamounts added two runs in the bottom of the second inning off a homerun by Harkey, the first of her Catamount career. Fulton singled with one out and stole second. Harkey's came up next and homered over the centerfield wall to give the Catamounts a 3-0 lead.
Freshman pitcher Mallory Broome then hit cruise control with just one minor bump in the game. Broome tossed her third complete game of the year allowing just one run on four hits and struck out five.
Broome gave up the one run to Gardner-Webb in the top of the third when Bulldog Melinda Dulkowski hit an RBI groundout with bases loaded. Broome halted Gardner-Webb's chance of additional runs when she forced Rachel Jablonski to foul out to end the inning.
Western Carolina scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to ice the game. Harkey led off with a single and a nice bunt by Sarah Perrine moved Harkey to second. The speedy Griffin beat out a bunt single that sent Harkey to third and pinch hitter McAteer's single to right field scored Harkey. With two outs, Pace hit an RBI single to score Griffin and Chastain put an exclamation point on the inning when she hit a three RBI homerun over the left field wall.
The homerun by Chastain, in the second game, gave her seven for the season which leads the team. She also tops the team with 22 RBI.
Western Carolina heads out on the road this weekend facing Furman. The Southern Conference doubleheader Saturday in Greenville, S.C. is set to begin at 1 p.m. and the single game is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.