The Western Carolina Lady Catamount softball team took its first conference series of the year by beating the UNC Greensboro Spartans two out of three games April 5-6. The win was a big step in the right direction as the Catamounts have struggled through the first two thirds of the season.
The series was also set up a unique milestone in the short history of the Lady Catamount program. In the second game of the series Junior Lauren Ross put herself in the record books by belting the 22nd homerun of her career, breaking current teammate Ashley Adams 21 homerun record.
When looking back at the series however, it’s the wins and quality of play that mattered most to Western. It was a glimpse at what the team could accomplish as time goes on and the team gains more experience with first year head coach Christine Hornak.
In the first game, which was halted by weather on Saturday, it was again Ross who made a huge difference, this time with her pitching. Ross recorded a season high eight strikeouts in a complete game. Junior Heather Pritchard also made a big contribution, hitting a grand slam in the sixth inning, her first homer in two years. The Lady Cats took the game 10 to 5.
The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader was a chess match, with both teams going back and forth the entire game. The Catamounts scored early in the first inning scoring two runs off an RBI double by junior Stephanie Beatty. UNC Greensboro came right back in their half of the inning, hitting two homeruns, one a solo shot and the other scoring two.
In the second inning with the bases loaded, Western reclaimed the lead with an RBI single by freshman Amber Hawkins. The Spartans answered in the third, tying the game by scoring a runner from third base off of a ground ball.
After a scoreless fourth, Western retook the lead in the fifth as Mollie Fowler hit a two run shot to bring the lead to 6-4. Once again however, UNCG retied the game with a two run sixth inning. Not to be outdone however, the Lady Cats scored another run after three walks and an error by the Spartans.
With a 1 run lead and the series ready to be taken, once again Ross made her presence known by coming in as reliever in the final innings. She allowed no hits in 2.2 innings and stopped any thoughts of a Spartan comeback.
In the final game of the doubleheader the Lady Cats couldn’t tame the Spartans offensive spurts scoring three in the first, two in the fourth, and two in the sixth. UNCG took the game 5 to 7.
As the final stretch of the season starts, the Catamounts look to take the success of the series and turn it into more victories. You can still catch the Catamounts on their home field for three more series. Western hosts the College of Charleston with a doubleheader April 12 and the final game April 13. April 26 the Catamounts host Furman in a doubleheader, with the final game being the following day. Finally the Catamounts close the season with a two game double header against Winston Salem State April 29.