Catamount softball start ’07 season with a pair of losses

The Western Carolina Softball team started the 2007 season in the Volunteer state, but would leave Tennessee State with a pair of opening season losses. Losing the first game of a doubleheader in nine innings, 4-3 and then falling the second game of the twin bill, 6-1 in front of 82 fans at Tiger Field in Nashville, Tennessee. Sophomore pitcher Mendy McKenzie and Senior Candace Hildebrand for Tennessee State had a pitcher’s duel going on with both pitchers having a shut-out through the first five innings before the Lady Catamounts broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth. Mollie Fowler led off the sixth by drawing a walk and was replaced by a pinch runner; Kayla Kelley came into the game and would score on an RBI Double by Sophomore Heather Pritchard to give the Lady Catamounts 1-0 advantage and then would score on another RBI double by Sophomore Stephanie Beatty for the 2-0 lead and the inning would come to an end on a groundout by Freshman Danielle Reese. Western would take that lead up until the bottom of the seventh with Tennessee State down to their final out, as Hildebrand would help her own cause with a two-run single to right field to tie the game at two and force extra innings. In the top of the eighth, JuCo transfer Jamie Swank would be put on second in the tie-breaker fashion and reached home on a single from Senior Ashley Adams for the 3-2 lead. Tennessee State would respond on a Chelsea Brown sacrifice fly that scored senior Erin Finneran to tie the game at three. Western was unable to score in the top half of the ninth inning, but Melanie Cruz of Tennesse state was placed on second base and advanced to third on a McKenzie wild pitch. Sophomore Christy Hill flew out to Centerfield allowing Cruz to score and give the Lady Tigers the victory, 4-3. McKenzie was saddled with the loss going 8 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits while striking out nine. Pritchard and fellow sophomore Lauren Ross led the Lady Catamounts by going 2-for-4 and Beatty going 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Adams went 1-for-3, as well, with an RBI. Hildebrand took the win for Tennessee State by going the distance, nine innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven. In the second half of the doubleheader, Western was held to just four hits and could score only a run in a 6-1 defeat as the Lady Tigers scored early and often. Tennessee State scored a run apiece in the third, fourth and fifth innings and would triple that output with three runs in the sixth inning. Their attempt at a shutout would be dashed by Ashley Adams getting hit by a pitch in the top of the seventh and scored on a groundout by Stephanie Beatty. In the end, it would not be enough as they would drop both games in the doubleheader. Lauren Ross would take the loss allowing three runs, walking four and striking out six in four innings of work. Junior Savannah Filley would finish the game giving up three runs on four hits while striking out two in two innings. Freshman Tatum Hargett led the way by going 2-for-3, good for her first two collegiate hits, while Serena Smith and Mollie Fowler each went 1-for-3 to round out the offensive production.