Lady Cougars sweep North Platte
Haley Paxton had two clutch doubles to help the 15th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College softball team sweep a doubleheader from North Platte Community College on Wednesday at Volunteer Field.
In the first game, Paxton's double to lead off the seventh inning helped the Cougars register a 3-2 win. Paxton also had a double in the second game that helped open up a 2-2 game for the 11-2 win.
The twinbill win was especially important for the Cougars as they split doubleheaders in their last three doubleheaders against Trinidad, Luna and Adam State Junior Varsity over the weekend.
"We played a lot better in the second game than we did in the first," the sophomore from Greeley, Colo., said. "It was really nice to come together and get the wins before we go home for spring break."
As for Paxton getting clutch hits, she didn't feel any pressure. She just went up relaxed and drove the pitch she liked to the gap.
"Assistant coach Molly [Bonuchi] told me a couple innings earlier that it wouldn't hurt to go and swing a bat," she said. "Coach Winn then told me an inning before that I would hit for Maddy [Spencer]. I was just praying to God that I got a base hit. It worked."
The two wins were also huge in the fact the Cougars, once again, flashed their offensive punch. The second game was when WNCC lit up offensively. The second game saw the Cougars pound out 11 hits and open up a 2-2 tie with a 9-run fourth inning.
Paxton said this team has plenty of offensive punch.
"The offense is pretty explosive. Once one of us catches it, everyone else just follows along," Paxton said. "That usually works out pretty well for us."
That offensive punch started with Duran as she took the second pitch she saw and drove it over the center field fence. Cash then singles and scored on a Angel Council ground out for the 2-1 lead. North Platte tied the game in the third as Tiffany Brasby reached on an error and scored on a 2-out double by Morgan Booth.
WNCC put the game away in the fourth with nine runs. Mariah Shepherd and Shelby McGraw started things with back-to-back singles. Weiss was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Paxton then came through with a double that nearly went out to score two runs and put WNCC up 4-2.
WNCC wasn't finished as Duran was walked with four pitches intentionally out of the strike zone to reload the bases. Cash scored two with a double. Council then ripped a run-scoring single. Jennifer Cottle and Shepherd followed with back-to-back run-scoring doubles for the 11-2 lead.
WNCC was paced by Cash and Shepherd with two hits each. Cash had a double, two runs scored and two RBIs, while Shepherd had a double, a RBI and a run scored. Council finished the game with three RBIs.
McGraw picked up the win, going five innings in scattering five hits and giving up five hits. McGraw also struck out five.
The first game was a defensive contest as runs were hard to come by. WNCC managed nine hits, but could only scratch across three runs. WNCC scored one in the first as Bianca Duran led off with a double and scored on a Kasey Cash single.
North Platte came back to take the lead in the fifth on a 2-run home run by starting pitcher Ashley Campbell for a 2-1 lead. The lead, however didn't last long as Duran. Pinch runner Hailee Mecham then came around to score on a hit by Jennifer Cottle.
WNCC won the game in the seventh as Paxton got on by a hit. Pinch runner Melanie Rowson then scored on the next play as Duran took the first pitch and delivered to centerfield for a double for the win.
Duran paced the Cougars at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance from her lead-off spot. She also had a run scored, a RBI, and two doubles. Cottle also registered two hits with an RBI.
Duran picked up the win in the circle, going seven innings while scattering five hits. Duran struck out six and walked one.
WNCC (26-7) will be back in action Wednesday when they travel to face Northeastern Junior College in a conference doubleheader before returning home for a Good Friday conference game against Lamar Community College.
NPCC 000 010 0 -- 2 5 2
WNCC 100 010 1 -- 3 9 1
WP -- Bianca Duran, LP -- Ashley Campbell; 2B -- WNCC (Duran 2, Nicole Weiss; HR -- NPCC (Campbell).
NPCC 101 00 -- 2 5 0
WNCC 200 9x -- 11 11 1
WP -- Shelby McGraw, LP -- Josilyn Richardson; 2B -- WNCC (Kasey Cash, Mariah Shepherd, Weiss, Haley Paxton), NPCC (Briona Santovito, Morgan Booth); HR -- WNCC (Duran).
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