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Western Nevada College softball: Bruins take two from Wildcats

Western Nevada College

Whether they were called upon to swing away or lay down a bunt, the Salt Lake Bruins were up to the task en route to a Scenic West Athletic Conference softball doubleheader sweep of Western Nevada College on Friday at Edmonds Sports Complex in Carson City.

The Bruins hit a pair of three-run homers and beat out five well-placed bunt singles to take the six-inning opener, 12-2, then used an 11-hit attack and six shutout innings from freshman pitcher Elisha Jahnke for a 5-2 victory in game two.

“They definitely have good bat control, and they were able to find the holes in the field and put the ball in the right place, so that was really difficult for us,” said WNC coach Leah Wentworth. “There were some adjustments that our defense needed to make, particularly on the corners, to try to minimize or stop some of the short game that we weren’t making.”

Bayleee Reeves also dominated in the circle for the Bruins in the opener. She allowed just five hits, including only Briauna Carter’s double after the second inning. She walked four and struck out one.

WNC freshman starting pitcher Kristina George escaped a bit of a jam in the first inning. With runners on first and second bases, she fanned two Bruins on three pitches.

In the bottom of the first, the Wildcats struck first when Makaylee Jaussi slid under the tag of catcher KyRae Kogianes on Carter’s bunt down the first-base line.

However, Salt Lake erupted for seven runs in the second inning. Raeana Gall delivered a two-run single and Riana Splinter lined a three-run homer over the center-field fence.

The Wildcats positioned themselves for a big inning in the second but left the bases loaded after scoring a run. Jaussi’s base hit to center plated Gabriella Canibeyaz as WNC closed to within 7-2.

WNC stranded at least one baserunner in the first five innings, including five in the first two frames.

“We just have to find a way to make it happen when we have the runners in scoring position,” Wentworth said. “The opportunities are there. We just need to increase the focus and really step up and find those holes.”

Salt Lake extended its lead to 9-2 with RBI singles by Karly Bunderson in the third and Corinne Cleverly in the fifth.

Kogianes’ three-run homer to left in the sixth increased Salt Lake’s lead to 12-2.

George worked the first five innings for the Wildcats before being relieved by Sadee Sorensen in the sixth inning.

WNC made some outstanding plays in the field to remain within striking range. Canibeyaz snagged a line drive in right field, center fielder Melanie Mecham gunned down Courtney Beavers trying to take an extra base and catcher Lauren Lesniak threw out Cleverly trying to steal second base.

In the second game, the Bruins capitalized on two first-inning errors to score four runs. Gall’s base hit deflected by a diving Katilyn Covione at second brought home the Bruins’ first run. Kogiones added a sacrifice fly to center, a RBI single by Megan Reed made it 3-0 and Jaussi misjudged a infield single with a lot spin on it to allow Reed to score the fourth run of the inning.

After Salt Lake scored the four unearned runs, Wildcat starting pitcher Nicole Lesniak settled into an out-producing rhythm, retiring seven out of eight hitters.

“I thought Nicole did a great job. She started out with four unearned runs and came back and really shut them down besides the one other run they generated,” Wentworth said. “An effort like that really gives us a chance to win if we strengthen up on the defensive side and make the other team earn all of the runs that come across the board.”

Salt Lake strung together several hits in the fourth to go ahead 5-0.

The Wildcats struggled to deliver hits against Jahnke, who permitted only two baserunners through the first four innings. Carter made it as far as third base after reaching with an infield single in the second inning, but Jahnke used a groundout by Kelsie Callahan to get out of the inning.

WNC finally put multiple runners on base in the fifth. Lauren Lesniak led off with a sharp single to center and Callahan reached on a throwing error by Jahnke. Jahnke, however, preserved her shutout by getting two pinch hitters out.

The Wildcats finally broke through against reliever Chelsa Baca in he seventh. In fact, the Wildcats brought the tying run to the plate after loading the bases with one out. Lauren Lesniak started the rally with a double to left and then Nicole Lesniak reached base on an error. Callahan followed with a deep drive to left, scoring pinch-runner Bailey Henderson.

“I really felt a big comeback was coming ,,, the way the energy was,” Lauren Lesniak said. “We usually do good when we have people on or bases loaded; we always find a way to come back and score runs, especially in the seventh inning.”

However, Covioine’s sacrifice fly to center became a game-ending double play when the Bruins tagged out a Wildcat between second and third bases.

“It’s always tough to end it that way when it’s running yourself off the bases,” Wentworth said.

Lauren Lesniak totaled two of the Wildcats’ five hits and threw out another Bruin baserunner.

“Lauren’s been really consistent for us offensively and defensively,” Wentworth said. “She has kept a lot of these runners honest. These teams have some pretty good base stealers.”

WNC dropped to 6-9 overall, including 1-4 in SWAC play. Salt Lake, ranked 18th in the National Junior College Athletic Association preseason poll, improved to 15-3 and 5-1. The teams will conclude their four-game series with a doubleheader starting at noon Saturday.

“We know when we face these top teams, you kind of have to do everything right,” Wentworth said. “We’ve really got to come out and play some flawless defense, pitchers need to make sure they keep us within that game and give our offense an opportunity to start generating some runs.”