Cullowhee, N.C. – The USC Upstate softball team belted four home runs, three in the second game alone, to take a doubleheader sweep at Western Carolina Wednesday evening at the Catamount Softball Complex. Upstate won by scores of 7-6 and 6-1.
Kendall Settlemyre hit a three-run home run in the first game, Maddison Kieffer belted two solo homers and Shellie Robinson collected a two-run homer in the second game to highlight the Spartan offensive attack.
Upstate improved to 34-4 overall on the season with the sweep. The Spartans improved to 12-0 all-time against WCU. Upstate travels to Macon, Ga., to take on Mercer in a three-game A-Sun series Saturday and Sunday. WCU fell to 13-23 on the year with the losses."I thought we were resilient in staying focused to get two wins today," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "We got down in both games and came back to win. That's going to help us down the stretch. Western hit the ball well tonight and my hat's off to them."
After two scoreless innings, Upstate jumped on top with two runs in the top of the third inning. With runners on second and third and no outs, Settlemyre singled up the middle to drive in both runs as the Spartans took a 2-0 lead.
WCU got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Amber Kimrey hit a solo home run to lead off the inning, cutting the Spartan lead to 2-1.
WCU scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to open a 4-2 lead. The Catamounts used the long ball to tie the game when Courtney Price hit a solo homer off reliever Lexi Shubert to tie the game at 2-2. They opened a 3-2 lead later in the bottom of the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Amelia Griffin singled to drive in a run. After a strikeout, Kara Salvo singled to left to give Western Carolina a 4-2 advantage.
Upstate got a run back in the top of the sixth. With Dana Landers on second and two outs, Lindsay Kelly reached on an error by the Catamount second baseman and Landers scored from second to make it a 4-3 game. Hayley Reinfeld then walked to put runners on first and second, chasing WCU starter Taylor Sigmon from the game. Shellie Robinson, who was celebrating her 21st birthday, singled to center off reliever Jordan Garrett to tie the game at 4-4.
Upstate loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh. However, WCU got out of the inning on a force out at second base. The game went to extra innings after Hannah Alexander, who was the starter and reentered the game to start the sixth, didn't allow WCU to get anything across.
Using the international tiebreaker rule with a runner on second to start the inning, Upstate put runners on first and second with no outs after a walk in the eighth. One out later, Settlemyre drove a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right center to give the Spartans a 7-4 lead. It was her eighth homer of the season for the junior third baseman.
WCU put runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch runner Brooke Coggins scored on a passed ball to cut the Spartan lead to 7-5. Kimrey then singled to score Heather Chastain from second and cut the lead to 7-6. However, Alexander struck out the next batter to get the win.
Alexander improved to 8-1 with the win. She tossed seven innings, allowing one earned run and scattering six hits. Garrett took the loss after allowing three runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief, falling to 5-12.
Settlemyre and Robinson led Upstate at the plate in the game. Settlemyre finished with two hits and her second career five-RBI game. Robinson was 3-for-5 with a run and RBI.
Upstate used the long ball to take down WCU in the second game, sending three over the fences.
After a scoreless first inning, Western Carolina jumped on top in game two when Taylor Sigmon homered to left to give the Catamounts a 1-0 lead in the second.
Settlemyre delivered again for Upstate in the third to tie the game at 1-1 with an RBI double to left. Maddison Kieffer gave the Spartans a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth with a solo home run, her fourth of the season.
Robinson cranked a two-run home run to straightaway centerfield in the top of the fifth to give the Spartans a 4-1 lead. Robinson's dinger was her 13th of the season.
WCU loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. However, Upstate starter Anna Miller hung tough and struck out the Sigmon to get out of the jam. Riding the emotion of holding the Catamounts scoreless in the fifth, Upstate delivered in the top of the sixth. Kieffer led off the inning with another solo home run to give the Spartans a 5-1 lead. It was her second homer of the game and fifth of the season.
Miller tossed six innings and struck out nine to improve to 12-2 on the year. She allowed one run and scattered six Catamount hits. Alexander tossed the seventh inning for the Spartans to finish off the game. Mallory Broome took the loss for WCU. She allowed two runs on three hits to fall to 1-6.
Kieffer led the way for Upstate at the plate, finishing with two homers. Robinson also had two RBIs.