CULLOWHEE, N.C. – The UNCG softball team earned a doubleheader sweep against Southern Conference foe Western Carolina, 5-1 in game one and 7-3 in game two Saturday afternoon at the Catamount Softball Complex.
The Spartans improve to 20-4, 4-1 on the season, while WCU falls to 8-16, 1-4 in the SoCon.
UNCG 5, WCU 1
In game one, the Spartans received a complete game from redshirt junior Raeanne Hanks (Rainier, Ore./Rainier Senior) who improved to 11-1 on the season. Hanks allowed one earned run with nine strikeouts to shutdown Western Carolina.
The offense was led by junior Katelyn Bedwell (Surrey, B.C./Elgin Park), who went 3-for-3 with a walk. Freshman Danielle Vega (Rialto, Calif./Aquinas) had two RBI on two sacrifice flies.
Western Carolina took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second after an RBI single to shallow center from Taylor Sigmon. Haley Pace began the inning with a single up the middle, followed by a wild pitch to move Pace into scoring position. After a groundout, Pace moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on Sigmon's 10th RBI of the season.
UNCG rallied to score two runs in the top of the fourth off three hits. Sophomore Tatiana Alcala (Oxnard, Calif./Pacifica) started the frame with a single through the infield. After a fly out, freshman Allison Geiner (Raleigh, N.C./Middle Creek) reached on an infield single to put runners on first and third. Junior Aisha Figueroa (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes) earned an RBI infield single to tie the game at 1-1 as Geiner made a heads up play to move to third. Vega gave UNCG a 2-1 advantage with a sacrifice fly to left field.
The Spartans added two insurances runs in the top of the fifth thanks to a two-run double from pinch-hitter Toni MacReynolds (Vienna, Va./James Madison). Bedwell and senior Eileen Horsmon (Dunkirk, Md./Northern) reached on walks to start the frame. Senior Heather Robb (Apex, N.C./Middle Creek) move the runners over to second and third with one out. MacReynolds earned her ninth and 10th RBI of the season with the double to score pinch-runner Kiah Ruffin (Wake Forest, N.C./Wake Forest-Rolesville) and Horsmon.
In the sixth, Figueroa reached on another infield single and move to third after a throwing error on the play. Vega picked up her second sacrifice fly of the game to give UNCG a 5-1 lead.
Hanks earned her sixth complete game of the year after ending the game with a groundout back to the mound.
UNCG 7, WCU 3
In game two, the Spartans scored seven runs on nine hits to take down Western Carolina, 7-3.
Freshman Lindsay Thomas (Irvine, Calif./Northwood) gave UNCG a 1-0 lead after a solo shot to right field in the top of the first. Thomas smacked her team-leading 10th home run of the season.
Classmate Vega hit a solo shot of her own on the first pitch of the third inning to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead. Thomas walked and was forced out at second on a fielder's choice. Horsmon singled to put runners on first and second. After a fly out, Alcala tripled to the right centerfield wall to plate two more runs for UNCG.
In the top of the fourth, UNCG scored three more runs to pad its lead to 7-0. Figueroa worked a one out walk and stole second base to put a runner in scoring position. After a groundout, Thomas doubled home Figueroa for the Spartans' fifth run. Bedwell followed with a double of her own to push the lead to 6-0 UNCG. Horsmon reached on an error to extend the inning, while Robb brought home another run on an RBI single.
Western Carolina added three runs in the seventh highlighted by Amber Steinhardt's solo home run to centerfield. WCU loaded the bases with two outs when freshman Kelly Lupton (Galloway, N.J./Absegami) came on in relief and induced a groundout back to the mount to save the game for the Spartans.
Sophomore Erica Navarette (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills) improved to 3-2 on the season with the victory. Navarette allowed two earned runs with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Mallory Broome (1-6) took the loss for the Catamounts after allowing three earned runs in two innings pitched.
Alcala finished the game 2-for-3 with a two-run triple, while Thomas was also 2-for-3 with two RBI and a solo home run.
UNCG concludes the series against Western Carolina with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Catamount Softball Complex.
Be sure to follow all updates about the UNCG softball season on www.uncgspartans.com or on twitter @UNCGsports/@UNCGsoftball.