WSU softball stumbles against UNC

Conference play continued on Friday for the Weber State University softball team as the University of Northern Colorado Bears made their way into Ogden for an early-season series.

The Wildcats were unable to capture a win in Friday’s doubleheader, dropping both games to the Bears. The losses put the Wildcats at 18-14 overall and 1-4 in Big Sky Conference play. The Wildcats’ energy never floundered, however, and they had their chances in the second game after being shut out in the first.

WSU’s junior right-hander, MaCauley Flint, got the start in Game 1 and pitched a perfect first inning, striking out all three hitters she faced. UNC got the first run of the game in the second when a well-struck ball off the bat of Nicole Hudson found its way over the fence for a home run to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

One run separated the two teams for the majority of Game 1, as the Wildcats struggled to get much going offensively. They threatened only once, and that came in the fifth inning when the Wildcats got runners on first and second, only to then ground out to end the inning.

UNC tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh, and the 3-0 lead was enough to win it. The Wildcats came up empty in their half of the seventh to end Game 1.

During Game 2, the Bears wasted no time, starting the scoring by putting up a run in the top of the first. They scored a run in each of the first four innings, but the Wildcats didn’t waver, and were finally able to string some hits and base runners together in the third.

A triple by WSU sophomore Alyson Kulp got the inning started. Kulp then scored when senior Brooke Silva punched a ground ball to the shortstop and then beat out the bobbled throw.

After giving up one more run in the top of the fourth, the Wildcats came back and put two more runs of their own on the board in the bottom half of the inning.

The game stayed at a 4-3 score from there on out, and the Bears claimed victory for Game 2. The Wildcats were not without chances in Game 2, though, leaving six runners on base between the fourth and sixth innings.

The Bears heavily relied on the long ball and hit three home runs between the two games. WSU head coach Mary Kay Amicone recognized and echoed their ability to hit for power.

“They’re a good team that hits for power and made the most of it,” Amicone said.

The Wildcats outhit UNC in the two games, and can look to build on things like that early on in this conference season.

“We outhit them, but putting those hits together is clearly a momentum-getter for us,” Amicone said. “We’ve shown that we have a lot of talent and a lot of energy, but we have yet to stay consistent.”

It is necessary for a young team to grow and develop, a process Flint recognizes.

“We’ve struggled a little bit in conference, but we’re all about the process right now,” she said. “We’re not in May yet, and that’s when we want to be our best.”

The Wildcats will look to right the ship as they play six games at home in the next week, two of those coming on Wednesday against in-state rival the University of Utah.