After a horrific start to the season, the Western Nevada College softball team is starting to hit its stride.
The Wildcats, who started the Scenic West Conference season with eight straight losses, have won five of their last six including a doubleheader sweep of North Idaho College, 5-4 and 7-2, Tuesday at Edmonds Sports Complex.
The teams continue their four-game series today at Edmonds with a doubleheader starting at 1:30 p.m.
"It's huge," WNC coach Leah Wentworth said after the sweep. "We were able to sustain our momentum from the weekend (3-1 record vs. Colorado Northwestern). This is the best pitching we've seen all year, and we're really starting to get comfortable at the plate. We've been able to make adjustments we've been working on."
Simply put, the Wildcats won this one with the long ball. Homers by Andi Lee and Sydney Darby (two) accounted for seven of WNC's 12 runs in the twin-bill. The Wildcats also got some strong pitching from Ali Lostra and Carlee Beck. Lostra allowed just one earned run in her complete-game performance, while Beck allowed two runs and seven hits in her six-inning effort.
North Idaho took a 1-0 lead in the second thanks to two walks, a passed ball and two sacrifice bunts.
WNC stormed back with three in the third.
Jenny Quam had a one-out infield single and moved to second when Madi Gonzalez beat out a bunt. After Darby popped out, Lee hammered three-run homer to center to make it 3-1.
"It felt good going off the bat," Lee said. " I knew it was going. I was looking for a base hit, not a homer. I had a burst of energy. I was so excited."
North Idaho cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth thanks to an unearned run. Lostra wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam by retiring Desirae Tinoco on a soft line drive to third.
The Wildcats went up 5-2 in the fifth when Darby launches a two-run homer with two outs.
"We're starting to come up with timely hits," Wentworth said.
North Idaho scored twice in the sixth, and both were unearned thanks to a two-out error by Jen Rechel. Lostra ended the inning by striking out Shelby Carter on a change-up.
Lostra struck out four, walked two and hit a batter. She made big pitches when she needed them.
"Ali was a true warrior, fighting through some pain," Wentworth said. "Our goal was three innings and after that it was an inning at a time. She did a great job going the distance."
"I'm real sore." Lostra said. "I was focused on defense. The adrenaline kicked in during the middle and end. Our defense helped. It was a great team effort."
In the second game, Idaho struck first again with two runs in the second, but it was all WNC after that.
A double by Amber Meyers and a single by Nikki Ragsdale accounted for the runs and a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the second.
A wild pitch scored Lee to make it 2-1 in the bottom of the second, and the Wildcats followed that with four in the third for a 5-2 lead.
Quam and Gonzalez both walked. Quam stole second and third, and scored on the second stolen base when the catcher threw wildly to third. Darby followed with her second homer of the day. Lee followed with a triple off reliever Lauren Potts sand scored on a single by freshman Cara McCarthy, who went 3-for-4.
WNC had a chance to do major damage, but Potts worked out of a bases-loaded situation to end the inning.
Lee and McCarthy added run-scoring singles in the fourth to make it 7-2.
Beck struck out one and walked three in six innings before turning the ball over to Lexie Alley, who worked a scoreless seventh.