Mark Rein, WNCC Sports Coordinator
The Western Nebraska Community College softball team tuned up for Region IX play this weekend with a doubleheader sweep over North Platte Community College Wednesday afternoon at Volunteer Field.
The opener saw WNCC pound out 11 hits, including a grand slam from Ana Apodaca in registering a 14-4 win in five innings. Ashley Thomas tossed a 2-hit shutout in helping the Cougars to the 8-0 win in five innings.
Jasmine Wessel, who had three doubles in the doubleheader, said they did the things they needed to do to get the win.
“I think today we played as a team pretty well,” Wessel said. “There are a few things that we could work on, but overall we did pretty good. We got the win.”
What helped the Cougars get the two wins was clutch hits. WNCC finished the two games with 21 hits.
“That [clutch hits] definitely gets the momentum going,” Wessel said. “When people have clutch hits we do a lot better.
The big key in the contests was defense, especially the second game as Thomas got the shutout win.
“It is big for our pitchers to get us ground balls and it is also bigger for us to make those plays for them,” Wessel said.
Thomas controlled the game in the second game with the two hitter behind some impressive defense. Thomas faced just 19 batters in five innings of work in striking out three.
Julia Suchan had a big defensive play in that second game when the freshman rightfielder rifled a sure base hit from her outfield position to throw out the batter at first base.
Offensively, the Cougars picked up clutch hits to earn the run-shortened win. WNCC scored twice in the second to open the scoring on two hits.
The Cougars plated one in the third for a 3-0 lead before opening the contest up in the fourth with a 3-run inning. WNCC’s three runs came on three singles. WNCC put the game away in the fifth with two runs. Wessel started off with a double and scored on an Oxford triple.
WNCC finished with 10 hits. Wessel, Selby, and Apodaca each had two hits in the game. Wessel had two doubles along with a run scored and a RBI. Oxford finished with a triple, Apodaca and Alyssa Guymon each had two RBIs.
The first game saw the Cougars score early and late in getting the 14-4 win. WNCC opened the game with a 5-run first inning behind a run-scoring double by Suchan and a 2-run single by Wessel.
WNCC added a single run in the second on two singles.
North Platte came scratched across single runs in the second and third, but WNCC put the game away with an 8-run fourth. The fourth saw Celyn Whitt and Suchan record back-to-back singles. After Madi Jackson walked to load the bases, Wessel unleashed a 3-run double. WNCC loaded the bases once more and this time Apodaca took the third pitch over the fence for a grand slam and a 14-2 lead.
North Platte kept fighting, scoring twice in the fifth on a Sam Foster single but that was as close as they got.
WNCC pounded out 11 hits. Wessel led the team with three hits, including a double, five RBIs, and two runs scored. Whitt also had three hits, including a triple and two runs scored.
Suchan finished with two hits. Suchan had a double, three runs scored, a RBI, and two stolen bases. Apodaca had one hit with five RBIs.
Sarah Linford picked up the win in the circle, going 4 2/3 innings in scattering eight hits and allowing four runs. Linford struck out one and walked three.
WNCC will now jump into Region IX play this weekend when they go on the road for six games. WNCC will travel to face Northeastern Junior College on Friday before traveling to Trinidad State Junior College on Saturday and Sunday.
“This weekend will be tough but I think we can get it done if we hit like we did today,” Wessel said. “Conference play will be tough, but I am really excited with this group of girls.”
North Platte 011 02 – 4 8 2
WNCC 510 8x – 14 11 0
WP – Sarah Linford, LP – Alicia Romo; 2B – WNCC (Jasmine Wessel, Julia Suchan); 3B – WNCC (Celyn Whitt); HR – WNCC (Ana Apodaca).
North Platte 000 00 – 0 2 3
WNCC (14-5) 021 32 – 8 10 2
WP – Ashley Thomas, LP – Sam Foster; 2B – WNCC (Jasmine Wessel 2); 3B – WNCC (Lauren Oxford).