Griffin Leads Spartans to Sweep at Western Carolina
Cullowhee, N.C. – Freshman Cheyenne Griffin collected five hits on the day to lead the USC Upstate softball team to a doubleheader sweep of Western Carolina at the Catamount Softball Complex Tuesday afternoon.
Upstate improved to 22-4 on the year with the wins. The Spartans, who had their doubleheader at North Carolina Central scheduled for Sunday canceled earlier in the day due to scheduling issues at N.C. Central, will take a week off before heading to Boone, N.C., next Tuesday to face Appalachian State in a non-conference doubleheader. Western Carolina fell to 9-13 with the losses.
"We have played 26 games in a month and we are mentally and physically exhausted. We battled and gutted out two wins today. We are getting some time off over the next two weeks to recharge our batteries as we get ready to open A-Sun play at the end of the month," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins.
While Griffin was strong throughout the day, she was not the only Spartan to excel at the plate. In all, Upstate pounded out 14 runs on 23 hits in the two games, including a 13-hit effort in game two.
Upstate jumped on top of Western Carolina in the top of the first of game one when Shellie Robinson (DeLand, Fla.) hit a solo home run to left to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead. It was her eighth homer of the season. Upstate added to the lead in the second inning when pinch runner Katelyn Molkenthin (Valrico, Fla.) scored on Hayley Reinfeld's (Parkland, Fla.) sacrifice fly.
Western Carolina tied the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Shemekia Scotton reached with a walk and scored on Robyn Burnette's ground out. Haley Pace scored on Heather Chastain's RBI-single.
Upstate regained the lead in the top of the third. Griffin (Moore, S.C.) drove in a run with an RBI-single and Robinson scored on Ashley Butler's (Laurens, S.C.) ground out to give the Spartans a 4-2 lead.
Upstate added to the lead in the fifth inning when Griffin legged out an infield single and pinch runner Lindsey Greeson (Stanley, N.C.) scored from first on Butler's double to right center.
Upstate starter Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.) pitched out of a jam in the fifth inning. Western Carolina put runners on first and second with no outs, but Alexander got two pop ups and a line drive out to get out of the inning and keep the Spartans ahead, 5-2.
Upstate made it a four-run game in the top of the sixth when the Spartans put runners on second and third with one out and Reinfeld scored on Robinson's ground out to second.
Alexander allowed two runs in the second inning and pitched out of trouble in the fifth. Beyond that, she was solid in the circle and went the distance to earn her 13th win of the season. She improved to 13-2 on the year and recorded six strikeouts.
Robinson led the Spartans at the plate, scoring two runs and driving in two more. Butler also drove in two runs, while Griffin and Lindsay Kelly (Jacksonville, Fla.) each totaled two hits.
Jordan Garret worked five innings for Western Carolina. She allowed six runs on nine hits to fall to 5-6 on the year. Chastain led the Catamounts at the plate with a pair of hits.
Upstate struck first in the second game of the doubleheader as well. The Spartans put runners on second and third with two outs when Reinfeld singled up the middle to drive in Kelly with the game's first run.
Western Carolina fought back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to take a 2-1 lead. Amber Steinhardt, the starting pitcher who also came in to finish the first game in the circle, hit a two-run home run to do the damage.
Upstate came back immediately, loading the bases with two outs. The Spartans then smacked three consecutive RBI-singles by Maddison Kieffer (Middleburg, Fla.), Kendall Settlemyre (Hickory, N.C.) and Reinfeld to open a 4-2 lead. Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) then reached base on an error by the left fielder, clearing the bases and plating three runs to open a 7-2 lead.
Upstate added to the lead with a run in the fourth inning to make it an 8-2 lead. With runners on second and third, Janna Lewis (Huntersville, N.C.) laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score pinch runner Molkenthin from third.
Western Carolina wouldn't go away in the game and scored a run in the bottom of the fourth on Chastain's RBI-single to cut the Spartan lead to 8-3. The Catamounts made it a four-run game in the fifth inning on Erin Foster's solo home run. Western got within three with a solo home run by MaKenzi McAteer in the seventh, but Alexander, who relieved starter Lacey Dinney (Hannon, Ontario) in the fifth, got out of the inning without further damage to secure the win.
Dinney tossed 4.1 innings to earn the win and improve to 8-2 on the year. She struck out four. Steinhardt tossed just 2.2 innings for Western Carolina, allowing seven runs on nine hits to fall to 2-2 on the year.
Griffin and Robinson each had three hits in the game for the Spartans. Reinfeld collected a pair of RBIs, while Harris topped the club with three RBIs in the game.