No place like home for WNC, which sweeps
Kristina George fired a four-hit shutout and Western Nevada College unleashed a seven-run inning to sweep a softball doubleheader against Colorado Northwestern, 2-0 and 12-3, on Friday at Edmonds Sports Complex in Carson City.
“Kristina did a great job of moving her pitches around, mixing speeds and generating a lot of strikeouts, which takes a lot of pressure off the defense,” said WNC coach Leah Wentworth.
Bailey Henderson and Kacie Freudenberger combined to knock in five runs during the decisive second inning in Game 2, capping a successful start to WNC’s home schedule.
Building on the confidence she gained last weekend with shutdown relief work against No. 3-ranked Salt Lake, George applied it in a starting role against the Spartans. George limited Colorado Northwestern to five baserunners while striking out a season-high seven.
“I feel really confident after the weekend I had against (Salt Lake),” George said. “I really trust my ability to come out and perform well for my team.”
One of the few Spartan scoring chances brought out the best in George. With Kayla Durfey reaching third base in the fourth inning, George struck out the side to keep the Spartans off the scoreboard.
“She was hitting her corner spots and not leaving too much over the plate,” said Henderson, the Wildcats’ sophomore catcher. “Her riseball was working really well, and she was keeping it out of their reach.”
After Courtney David led off the seventh inning with a line-drive double just out of the reach of left fielder Triniece Lesky, George retired the next three Spartan hitters to end the game. Third baseman Briauna Carter provided defensive support by catching a pair of line drives in the final frame.
“They were starting to catch up to my pitches, but I knew that our defense was going to make the plays so we could get out of the inning,” George said. “It feels so good to get a win finally. We’ve worked so hard at practice.”
George also benefited from her defense’s ability to shut down the Spartans’ run game. Henderson and shortstop Makaylee Jaussi combined to throw and tag out two Spartans trying to steal second base.
The Wildcats provided the necessary offense with two outs in the second inning. A two-strike RBI single by Lesky scored Gabrielle Canibeyaz with the first run and Jaussi drove in Carter with a base hit to left, completing the scoring.
“‘Tri’ has been doing a good job for us at the plate; she did a good job coming through when we needed her to,” Wentworth said. “She stays relaxed and has a good positive mindset at the plate.”
Freshman pitcher Taylor Reidhead controlled the Wildcat offense the rest of the way, allowing just two additional baserunners. Henderson was stranded on third base in the third inning and Jaussi was thrown out trying to steal second base after singling in the fifth.
Jaussi collected two of the Wildcats’ four hits off Reidhead.
WNC brought its offense to the table in Game 2. The Wildcats spotted the Spartans a 2-0 lead in the first inning but erupted for seven runs in the second. Henderson’s two-out, bases-loaded double highlighted the uprising. Her blast found the gap in right-center field, scoring Carter, Samantha Bell and Jaussi.
“She had been pitching mostly outside, and I was just looking for anything that was in the zone so I could get around on it,” Henderson said. “The pitch was a little high, but it worked.
“Clutch hitting is very important for us, and we have been struggling with that, especially against (Salt Lake) and CSI. We didn’t have the timely hits that we had in these games today.”
Jaussi preceded the extra-base hit with a bases-loaded walk to plate Dakota Robinson.
The Wildcats weren’t satisfied with a 4-2 lead as Melanie Mecham deposited Kierstyn Roundy’s first pitch into center field, scoring Henderson. Freudenberger capped the inning with a laser shot over the fence in left-center field for her third homer of the season.
“It was my pitch and I was looking for it,” Freudenberger said. “We knew we had been struggling offensively and just had to get back at it. We took some free swings and got some positive vibes.”
Ashton Bell homered off WNC starting pitcher Kaitlyn Jimmy in the third, cutting WNC’s lead to 7-3. But the Wildcats had an answer in the bottom of the inning against Bell, who took over for Roundy in the second. Bell struggled with her command, giving up five walks before Roundy re-entered. A two-base throwing error and a sacrifice bunt by Samantha Bell contributed to the Wildcats’ four-run inning.
WNC concludes its four-game series with the Spartans at noon today.