On March 21, just three days after being crowned the champions of the Best Western Catamount Classic, the Catamounts headed to Boiling Springs, NC, for a double header against Gardner-Webb. The first game of the double header would not go according to plan for Western, as they were blanked by the Bulldogs 8-0. However, in the second game, the Catamounts got back on track and defeated the Bulldogs 8-5.Gardner-Webb scored four runs on five hits in the bottom of the fifth inning that led to the shortened five-inning shutout. Sophomore Mendy McKenzie pitched 2.1 innings and was credited with her 10th loss of the season, falling to 5&10. She gave up four runs and five hits and struck out two. Junior Savannah Filley threw 1.2 innings and also gave up four runs and five hits and threw no strikeouts in the contest.Game two against the Bulldogs would be a different story as the Catamounts got their act together and went out and defeated Gardner-Webb 8-5. The Cats had 13 hits in the second game, including five hitters with multiple hits. Those five players were McKenzie, senior Nikki Bost, sophomore Stephanie Beatty, red shirt freshman Mollie Fowler and junior Jamie Swank.In the first inning, the Catamounts looked ready to avenge their shutout earlier in the day as they went on a scoring binge. They scored four runs on six hits in the opening inning. The scoring was capped off with sophomore Lauren Ross’ three-run homerun over the left field wall, which would be her third of the season.In the second inning, the scoring continued for Western as they took advantage of a pair of walks that put Bost and Beatty on first and second. Filley hit a three-run homerun over the left field wall following the walks, putting the Catamounts way out in front.After defeating Gardner Webb, the Catamounts were poised and ready to defend their regular season Southern Conference Championship as conference play began. They came back to Cullowhee to battle the Appalachian State Mountaineers in their conference opener.The first two games took place on March 24 as a double header, and the third game of the series took place the following day. In the first two games, the Catamounts were swept by the Mountaineers 9-2 and 4-2. In the third game on March 25, the Catamounts earned their first conference victory of the season by defeating ASU 7-3.Game one began on a rocky start for pitcher Mendy McKenzie. She hit the first two batters she faced. The Mountaineers got on the board early in the game, scoring four runs in the first inning to go ahead 4-0.In the bottom of the first inning, the Cats cut the deficit in half, but that would be all the runs the Cats would score for the remainder of the contest. The Cats gave up three runs in the third inning and two runs in the fourth to suffer the 9-2 loss. McKenzie was credited with the loss, and she fell to 5&11 on the year. In game one, the Cats only had three hits for the entire game. Those three hits came from McKenzie, Beatty and freshman Kayla Kelley, who got her first hit of the season. Game two would be somewhat of the same story as the Catamounts once again were held to just two runs, resulting in another loss. However, the score was a lot closer than the previous game. In game two, the Catamounts fell to the Mountaineers 4-2.The Mountaineers raced out to a 4-0 lead, thanks to a run in the second inning, two runs in the third and one in the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Catamounts finally got on the board after Beatty’s solo homerun over the left field wall, marking her third of the season. With two outs in the inning, Lauren Ross stepped up to the plate and crushed a long ball over the left field wall. Ross became the team’s homerun leader with four on the season.In the final frame of the game, the Catamounts could not capitalize on a key scoring opportunity that could have given them the lead. McKenzie hit a single up the middle with only one out in the inning. With two outs, Beatty singled and put runners on both first and second. The next batter was Filley, who came into the game hitting .315 with 23 total hits and three homeruns on the season. However, she hit a short dribbler towards second base which ended the game and ended any possible chances of a Catamount comeback. Ross was the starting pitcher for the Catamounts, and after two innings of work, she allowed three runs and five hits. Ross took the loss, dropping her to 4&5 on the season. Filley took over Ross’ duties on relief and pitched five innings and allowed just five hits and one run. Game three of the series took place the following day. After just a night of rest, the Catamounts finally got a win in the series and moved their conference record up to 1&2 as they defeated Appalachian State 7-3. It was a record-setting day for sophomore Stephanie Beatty as she tied the school record for two homeruns against the Mountaineers. Beatty went 2-for-4 on the day including the two homeruns; she compiled three RBIs, as well as three runs for the Cats. Sophomore Beth Hauser returned to the starting lineup for the Catamounts and went 3-for-4 in the contest.Lauren Ross, who started the previous game against Appalachian, was the starting pitcher once again. She threw 5.2 innings, allowed nine hits and recorded four strikeouts. She did not give up three runs to the Mountaineers. Filley came in for relief and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings and earned her first save of the season. The win improved Ross to 5&5 on the season.Now the Catamounts have a taste of conference play; if they want to have any shot at reclaiming their Regular Season SoCon Championship, they need to play the way they did in game three against the Mountaineers for the remainder of the season.