GREENVILLE, S.C. - Western Carolina softball (15-25, 5-9 Southern Conference) used stellar defense and timely hitting to sweep Furman 5-4, 1-0 (18-17, 6-7 SoCon) Saturday at Pepsi Stadium. It was the first time this season the Catamounts have swept the doubleheader of a Southern Conference series.
Western Carolina 5, Furman 4
Defense and timely hitting secured a win for Western Carolina in game one.
The Catamounts didn't waste any time getting on the board, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning. Amelia Griffin's patience paid off as she took four straight pitches to draw a lead-off walk. A beauty of a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Fulton moved Griffin to second and Griffin motored to third on a ground out by Taylor Sigmon.
Western Carolina scored its first run of the game on an RBI single by Haley Pace that went past second base. Senior Shemekia Scotton followed with an RBI double to score Pace and give the Catamounts an early 2-0 lead.
Runs in the bottom of the second and the third by Furman knotted the game at two after three inning.
Amazing defensive plays by Western Carolina shut down Furman's scoring chances in the fourth inning. Amber Steinhardt made a scooping play in right field for the first out and then with a runner on and one out, short stop Karley Harkey chased down a fly ball behind the third base bag for the out. Catamount pitcher Jordan Garrett picked up a strikeout on Natalie Clemmons to end the inning.
Western Carolina took advantage of what was given to them and made things happen in the top of the fifth to put together three runs and re-claim the lead. Harkey led off the scoring rally with a single up the middle. Makenzi McAteer laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Harkey to second. A speedy Griffin caused the Furman first baseman to muff the ball and Griffin reached first on a Furman error moving Harkey to third.
With one out, Fulton reached on a fielder's choice and picked up an RBI when Harkey scored. Another fielder's choice by Furman allowed Sigmon to reach first and Griffin scored the second run of the inning and earned an RBI for Sigmon. Pace picked up her second RBI of the game when she singled to left center and plated Fulton.
Furman made the game very interesting when the Paladins scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to slice the Catamount lead to one, 5-4.
Western Carolina had a chance to pad to its lead in the top of the seventh inning when Fulton hit a double to right center with one out. Fulton was stranded at second when Sigmon ground out and Pace flied out.
Garrett sat down the Paladins in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to squelch a comeback attempt. With that performance, Garrett improved to 10-9 on the season tossing a complete game allowing three earned runs on seven hits and struck out seven.
Of the seven hits in the game for Western Carolina, Pace had two and also had a pair of RBI.
Western Carolina 1, Furman 0
In the top of the seventh inning, sophomore Heather Chastain led off with a double down the left field line to set up Western Carolina's eventual winning run in the game. Chastain was replaced at second by freshman Sarah Perrine who promptly moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Amber Steinhardt. Sophomore Megan Crowe attempted a bunt that turned into a single and Western Carolina had runners at the corners with one out. Harkey executed a textbook sacrifice fly to right field that scored Perrine and picked up an RBI.
Clinging to the 1-0 lead and Furman coming to bat set up a nail-biter of a situation for the Catamounts.
Starring pitcher, freshman Mallory Broome, made things interesting when she issued a lead-off walk to Stephanie Field. Taylor Jenkins laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Field to second and the Paladins had the tying run at second. That's when Broome and the Catamount defense dug in as Furman hit back-to-back fly outs to end the game.
Broome improved to 3-6 on the season tossing her first shut-out of the season and her fourth complete game. She allowed three hits and struck out four.
Five of the combined eight hits in the game, five from Western Carolina and three from Furman, were doubles.
Western Carolina will try and earn a series sweep over Furman on Sunday when the Catamounts face the Paladins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Pepsi Stadium.