Catamount Softball wins Best Western Catamount Classic

On March 18, the Catamount Softball team was crowned the Champions of the Second Annual Best Western Catamount Classic after their 6-3 victory over the Radford Highlanders. The event featured a total of 10 games between Western, Detroit, Radford and the defending tournament champion UNC-Wilmington, all playing at the Catamount Softball Complex in Cullowhee. In the opener of the event, a late seventh inning rally by the Catamounts fell short as they were defeated by the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington 6-5. With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, sophomore infielder Beth Hauser hit her third homerun of the season with a solo shot over the left field wall. The homerun pulled the Catamounts to within one at 6-5; however, the run was stopped when junior Jamie Swank went down swinging. In the second day of the tournament, the Catamounts split the two games they played. They defeated Detroit 11-9, but fell to Radford 5-4. Against Detroit, the Catamounts were carried by the fantastic mound performance of sophomore Mendy McKenzie. She threw her 11th complete game of the year and picked up her fourth win on the year. McKenzie gave up five earned runs and threw four strikeouts. She also went 3-of-5 from the plate and scored three runs for the Catamounts, as well. In the next game, the Catamounts lost a heartbreaker to the Highlanders of Radford, falling 5-4. WCU trailed 3-2 headed into the seventh and final inning, and in the inning, they compiled two runs and took the 4-3 lead. However, Amanda Davidson of Radford hit a leadoff homerun in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 4. Sarah Himan of Radford also hit an RBI single with runners on first and second that would end up being the game winner for Radford. Lauren Ross pitched 6.1 innings for the Catamounts, and she gave up nine hits and five earned runs. She struck out five but was credited with the loss dropping her to 2&4 on the season. In the third day of the event, the Catamounts looked to avenge two losses from both UNC-W and Radford. They did just that as they ended up being crowned champions of the Best Western Catamount Classic by defeating UNC-W 11-3 and Radford 6-3. The Catamounts went 3&2 in the tournament and compiled a team batting average of .343. The Cats defeated the Seahawks 11-3 in just five innings to advance to the championship game for the second straight year. Sophomore Lauren Ross pitched five complete innings, giving up just three hits and three runs, improving her record to 3&4 on the season. She struck out eight and walked five. On the offensive side, the Catamounts were carried by junior designated hitter Savannah Filley. She went 2-of-2 in the game with one run and 2 RBIs. In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Catamounts went on a tear scoring six runs. Sophomore Stephanie Beatty opened the inning with a solo leadoff homerun, which was her second on the year. Filley was next at bat and she hit her second double of the game, and sophomore Beth Hauser and freshman Tatum Hargett were both walked consecutively, loading the bases for Western. Swank singled to left centerfield and scored both Filley and Hauser. Next up to bat was pitcher Lauren Ross, and she added to the destruction of the Seahawks with a three-run homerun. The demolition of UNC-W sent the Cats to their second consecutive championship game of the tournament. They drew Radford, the same team that defeated them the previous 5-4. However, this time around, the Catamounts looked flawless and defeated the Highlanders 6-3 to win the Catamount Classic. The Highlanders took the early lead in the game scoring a run in the bottom of the second. It would remain 1-0 in favor of Radford until the fourth inning, when the Catamounts were finally able to get on the board. Senior Nikki Bost set up the tying run by hitting a triple. Beatty sent Bost home on a sacrifice fly to right field, tying the game up at 1. Radford scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to regain the lead. However, in the top of the fifth, the Catamounts bounced back from the deficit and scored five runs, taking the 5-3 lead. In the top of the seventh, Ross hit her second homerun of the day over the centerfield wall, adding to the cause for WCU. The homer by Ross was her third of the season and would eventually put the nail in the coffin for the Highlanders as the Catamounts cruised to the victory 6-3. Stephanie Beatty was named Tournament MVP; in the five games of the event, she put together an impressive .500 batting average, eight hits, four doubles, one homerun and six RBIs. McKenzie and Ross were named to the All-Tournament team with their incredible performances, as well.