George stars in opening game against Bruins
A stellar relief performance by sophomore Kristina George, and Bailey Henderson’s seventh-inning home run brought Western Nevada College on the brink of an upset of third-ranked Salt Lake on Saturday in Taylorsville, Utah. But the Bruins held on for a 4-3 victory in the opening game of a Scenic West Athletic Conference softball doubleheader.
George also threw four innings of two-hit relief in the second game, but Salt Lake’s Lauren Frailey was even better, tossing a four-hit shutout as the Bruins completed the four-game sweep with a 5-0 win.
“I thought we did a good job hanging in there against a tough team,” said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. “I could tell all weekend there wasn’t a moment that they were comfortable with the score. We were keeping their slappers off base, and fundamentally we are playing really well. We just need to improve our mental side of the game to be able to come out on top.”
WNC starter McKell Marble surrendered four runs in the second inning, but George came in to shut out Salt Lake over the final innings.
“Kristina was really comfortable facing a lot of their hitters who she grew up with, knowing what kind of hitters they are and how to work the count to get them out,” Wentworth said.
Henderson’s two-out solo homer in the seventh trimmed Salt Lake’s lead to a run but Addie Jensen got the final out for her complete-game victory. She allowed five hits and three earned runs.
WNC pushed across two runs in the second inning. Dakota Robinson started the rally with a walk and went to third on a single by Briauna Carter. Jensen’s wild pitch sent Robinson home, and Carter came home on Jensen’s second wild pitch of the inning.
Marble got away with three first-inning walks but wasn’t as fortunate in the second inning. Both of her walks in the second came home on Karly Bunderson’s three-run triple, which put Salt Lake on top to stay, 3-2. Rae Gall followed with a run-scoring double, abbreviating Marble’s stint in the circle. After throwing a wild pitch, George extinguished the rally with a groundout.
George blanked the Bruins the rest of the way, giving the Wildcats a chance to pull off the upset. But Jensen was equal to the task, giving up four hits and one run over the final three innings.
WNC missed an opportunity to tighten the score in the fifth when Triniece Lesky and Makaylee Jaussi started the inning with base hits. But Jensen retired the next three Wildcats as the Bruins held on to their 4-2 lead.
Jaussi had two of the Wildcats’ five hits.
Frailey retired the first nine Wildcats she faced in Game 2. Her teammates got her a run in the first and three more in the second off Wildcat starting pitcher Kaitlyn Jimmy. Tina Ford’s RBI single and Bunderson’s two-run double generated the scoring in the second.
Jimmy’s outing ended in the third when the Bruins’ first two hitters reached base. George prevented the Bruins from extending their lead with three straight outs.
In the fourth, Henderson reached on an error, giving the Wildcats their first baserunner. But the Bruins turned a double play. Kacie Freudenberg’s two-out single ended Frailey’s no-hit bid, but WNC left two runners on base.
Carter, Robinson and Melanie Mecham also collected base hits before Frailey completed the shutout as the Bruins raised their SWAC record to 8-0.
“We were struggling with Frailey’s drop ball,” Wentworth said. “It was falling off the table, and we were pulling off of it with our eyes.”
After starting conference play with eight road games, WNC (0-8 in SWAC and 5-14 overall) meets Colorado Northwestern on Friday and Saturday for its first home games of the season. Friday’s doubleheader at Edmonds Sports Complex starts at 1 p.m.
“I think it’s going to be a huge advantage for us at home,” Wentworth said. “It’s always tough to play on the road and compete with these teams and their fans.”