SOFTBALL: Hilltoppers now two games over 500

Amber North

The ladies of the diamond continued their superb play as they stole two wins from Belmont on Tuesday, increasing their win total to six of the last seven games.

Western improves to a record of 26-24, making the team two games over the .500 mark.

In game one, junior ace Allison Silver proved again why she deserved Pitcher of the Week honors, winning her fourth straight decision to increase her record to 14-11.

“Overall, I (have) felt in between because I felt I could have done better,” Silver said. “Now, I’ve found a groove, and I hope to stay in it.”

Junior centerfielder Riley Garcia got the Hilltoppers on the board when she scored off a throwing error by Bruins catcher Julie Castelli.

At the top of the third, Western had the bases loaded with just one out but failed to send the runners home.

“We had some key hits, but we stranded some runners,” head coach Leslie Phelan said. “I thought we should’ve scored many more runs.”

The Hilltoppers would score two more runs in the fifth, leading the game at 3-0. Garcia scored her second run of the game off another Bruin defensive error, and Pennington scored off senior right fielder Krystalyn Smith’s bunt single.

Belmont would score a run in the bottom of the sixth, cutting Western’s lead to 3-1. The run denied Silver’s third shutout of the season.

The Hilltoppers repolished their bats to swing past the Bruins in the second game, defeating them 4-1.

Garcia was responsible for three of those runs, going 3-3 at the plate and slugging three RBIs. She drove in freshman pitcher/first baseman Natasha Sevco and freshman catcher Samantha Young to put the Hilltoppers ahead at 2-0.

Pennington hit an RBI single after Garcia to make the score 3-0.

Belmont made an effort to come back with three hits in the bottom of the fourth, one of those being from center fielder/second baseman Amanda Jones.

The Bruins had two runners on base with one out, but freshman pitcher Adrienne Lathrop struck out one and forced a pop-up to to end their run.

The Hilltoppers got one more RBI from Garcia to end the game.

Pennington’s three hits in the game pushes her total to 61 on the season, seven hits behind Garcia on the all-time list.

“I feel excited, of course,” an astonished Pennington said of the achievement. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff. I just wait until after the season and see what I’ve achieved.”

Although Phelan said she was pleased with the hitting and the two wins Tuesday, she still wants the team to work on the fundamentals.

“We didn’t execute a lot of different offensive strategies,” she said. “We have to improve with the remaining conference schedule because we won’t get away with that.”

The team will test Florida International when they head down to Miami on Saturday and Sunday. The Golden Panthers are second in the Sun Belt with a conference record of 6-2, 30-22 overall.

“They are very fast and very aggressive, and they try to make things happen, and they have solid pitching,” Phelan said.

Silver is hoping to keep her pitching flow going against the tough FIU squad.

“I want to show FIU that Louisiana-Lafayette (33-7, 10-2 SBC) isn’t their only competition,” she said.

BEGITAL Reach Amber North at [email protected] ENDITAL