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HomeCollegeApp State Softball in doubleheader sweep over East Tennessee State

App State Softball in doubleheader sweep over East Tennessee State

BOONE, N.C. – Strong pitching and 18 runs on 19 hits helped propel the App State Mountaineers’ nonconference winning streak to eight games as they closed their midweek schedule with a doubleheader sweep over the ETSU Buccaneers, winning 7-0 and 11-4 on Tuesday at Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium. App State finished its nonconference schedule with a 17-10 record.

The Mountaineers (21-27) scored in all but five of the 14 innings played to open their five-game homestand and battled through a 40-minute rain delay to post 11 runs in the finale. Kayt Houston’s four-hit, two-homer day and Addie Wray’s three-hit, four-RBI game two helped fuel the App State offense to 18 runs across the two contests. App State has scored 30 runs in its past three games.

In the circle, the duo of Sejal Neas and Delani Buckner allowed just four runs and nine hits while striking out 18 (nine apiece). Neas’ four-hit shutout to open play set the tone for the Mountaineers as she started the day by striking out five of the first nine Buccaneers (11-35) she saw. Buckner followed that performance with her season-best number of strikeouts in a complete-game effort.

App State’s offense erupted for 19 hits while also being patient at the plate, drawing 14 walks across the two wins. The Mountaineers saw at least one runner reach base in every inning they batted and had at least one hit in all but one inning. Over the past three games, App State has cracked 31 hits and has raised its team batting average to .300, the fourth-best mark in the Sun Belt Conference.

GAME 1: App State 7, ETSU 0

Returning to the High Country after a brief three-game road trip, Neas took to the circle to make her team-leading 25th start and struck out the first batter she faced en route to a perfect opening frame. Feeding off Neas’ strong start, Houston ignited the Mountaineer offense with her 10th homer of the season to help App State strike first. Houston, who eclipsed 30 career homers last Sunday, also became the first Mountaineer in program history to surpass 240 career hits with that blast.

Houston’s solo homer was followed by a walk from Peyton Darnell and a double from Ambry Lucas, immediately putting two runners in scoring position with one out. Being aggressive on the basepaths turned into two more first-inning runs as Darnell scored on a wild pitch and Lucas strolled home on a passed ball to make it 3-0 before the final out was recorded. App State is now 12-4 when scoring the game’s first run.

Two more perfect innings from Neas in the second and the third kept the App State lead at three through three innings and allowed the Mountaineer offense to strike for their fourth and fifth runs in the fourth to extend their lead. Summer Simpson led off the inning with a walk and stole second base, putting a runner in scoring position for Barrett. With two strikes, the freshman drove home Simpson with a sharply hit single into right field and a SAC fly by Darnell made it 5-0 after four. To that point, App State had already tallied seven hits.

ETSU recorded its second hit of the game in the fifth inning, but back-to-back punchouts from Neas ended the frame, her seventh and eighth of the game. In the bottom half of the inning, two more hits pushed across two more runs, building the Mountaineer lead to seven.

Three straight baserunners helped fuel the crooked number as Killian Roberts led off the fifth with a walk and Wray pushed her to second with a single. Then, Abby Cunningham struck a double into the right-center gap that scored Roberts, marking Cunningham’s 13th RBI of the year. App State scored once more in the inning to lead 7-0 after five.

In the sixth, Lucas recorded her third hit of the game as the Mountaineers finished the game with 10 hits, but Neas didn’t need much run support in her marvelous start as she shut out the Buccaneers to pick up her 10th victory of the year. She needed just 98 pitches to do so.

GAME 2: App State 11, ETSU 4

After a brief pause between contests, Delani Buckner picked right back up where Neas left off in game one as she struck out a batter in her first inning of work to toss a clean opening inning in game two.

A lead-off walk to Grace Barrett and a flyout started the Mountaineer offense, but a 40-minute weather delay halted play in the first. Once the teams took the field again, App State put another runner on, courtesy of Lucas’ fourth time aboard, but the Buccaneers were able to strand them both, keeping it tied.

Unfazed by the weather, Buckner returned to the circle and struck out the side in the top of the second inning, freezing the last hitter with a perfect pitch on the inside corner to cap it off. In the third, the Mountaineer starting pitcher racked up her fifth strikeout of the game to make it 10 consecutive scoreless innings from the App State staff.

Capitalizing off solid pitching, the Mountaineer offense caught fire with five runs in the third to take the lead. Barrett’s lead-off walk started the frame and in almost identical fashion to game one, Houston belted a long homer over the left-center field fence to give the Mountaineers the lead. Now with 11 home runs, Houston is tied for fifth in the Sun Belt in long balls. ETSU recorded the next two outs, but a walk and a single put two runners on for Wray as App State threatened again.

The lefty promptly delivered a first-pitch single through the right side which plated Roberts and an errant throw home allowed Taylor Thorp to score. Not done yet, Brooke Kennerly smoked a double that bounced off the base of the fence, which scored the fifth run of the inning. App State’s five-run fifth would be all the support it needed.

A pair of walks and a pair of doubles helped ETSU cut into the lead in the fourth, but App State quickly worked to answer as a Darnell single down the right-field line extended the lead back to four. It was Darnell’s 191st career RBI.

Two more strikeouts from Buckner quelled the ETSU offense in the top of the fifth, sparking the Mountaineer offense to score twice more in the bottom half on two more hits. A walk to Thorp started the inning and Wray’s RBI triple scored her as she raced around the bases for her sixth career triple. Kennerly scored Wray from third to make it 8-2 as she tallied RBI No. 2 for the game.

ETSU struck for two more in the sixth to trim its deficit to four, but the Mountaineers found a way to answer again, recording three more runs in the sixth. App State loaded the bases thanks to two walks and Killian Roberts’ 99th collegiate hit and Wray’s third hit of the contest scored her third and fourth RBIs of the game to make it 10-4. An error advanced two runners into scoring position and Kennerly delivered home her third RBI of the contest to plate App State’s 11th run. The combination of Wray and Kennerly combined for seven hits and six RBIs in game two.

Trekking back to the circle for the seventh, Buckner worked around a single to post a scoreless frame, securing the Mountaineers’ 21st win of the year and her 25th career win in the circle.

Up Next

App State will wrap up its Sun Belt and home regular season schedule with a three-game set with the Georgia Southern Eagles starting Thursday at 2 p.m. Every game can be streamed on ESPN+.

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