Posted 8 months ago
By John Axtell
STERLING, Colo. — Jennifer Cottle had two home runs Wednesday as the 19th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College softball team earned two shutout wins over Northeastern Junior College 8-0 and 10-0 in conference action in Sterling, Colo.
The wins gives the Cougars the outright conference title with an 18-2 record, and makes them the #1 seed in next week’s Region IX tournament. The Cougars are now 46-8 on the season as they close out the regular season with a 3-day home stand beginning Friday at Volunteer Field.
WNCC coach Maria Winn-Ratliff said after the NJC games that all 3 of her three pitchers performed well. “To go on the road and only give up four hits and get two shutouts on the day is huge for our staff,” she said. “Bianca (Duran), RaVae (Herrera) and Shelby (McGraw) all threw very well for us today.”
What was even pleasing to the coach was how the team hit in windy conditions. WNCC combined for 27 hits in the two games.
“To be able to put up 18 runs on board with the windy conditions blowing in was a success for us,” she said. “We hit a lot of line drives and didn’t leave a lot of runners on base. We just want to continue to play consistent softball both offensively and defensively.”
In the opener, the Cougars dominated play in the opener, finishing with 15 hits to the Plainswomen’s three hits. Five different Cougars finished with multiple hits, including three hits each from Cottle, Kasey Cash, and Danielle Hearn.
Cottle, freshman from Lehl, Utah, came within a single of hitting for the cycle. She had a run-scoring triple in the first inning, a double in the fourth inning, and a 2-run home run in the sixth inning. Cottle also scored two runs and had three RBis.
Cash finished with two singles and a double, while scoring two runs and driving in one. Hearn had three singles, and McGraw had the only other extra base hit, run-scoring triple in the third inning.
Mariah Shepherd and Kayla Romey also finished with two hits each. Shepherd scored two runs, had a RBI, and had two stole bases; while Romey had a run scored and a stolen base.
Duran continued her dominating season with a three-hitter that saw the right-hander face just 21 batters in six innings, while striking out 6. She’s won 30 games this year, extending her school record career total to 55 victories.
The second game was even more dominating for WNCC, both offensively and from the circle. Herrera and McGraw combined on a 5-inning one-hitter that saw the two pitchers strike out four and face just 18 batters.
WNCC finished with 12 hits, including five extra base hits. Cash led the way with a 3-for-4 game with two runs scored, two RBIs, a stolen base, and a double. Cottle, Hearn, and Haley Paxton each finished with two hits.
Cottle went 2-for-4 with a 2-run double in the 1st and a 3-run homer in the 4th, two runs scored, and 5 RBIs. Haley Paxton had 2 hits…one a double…and Duran had the other extra base hit, a solo home run in the 5th that extended her school career record in that category to 34.
WNCC will host North Platte in a doubleheader at 1:00, then hold Dorm Parent Day with a single game Saturday at 1 p.m. against Garden City Community College. The Cougars will wrap up the regular season against Garden City on Sunday with Sophomore Day at 11 a.m.
WNCC 302 003 — 8 15 0
NE Colorado 000 000 — 0 3 0
WP — Bianca Duran; 2B — Kasey Cash, Jennifer Cottle; 3B — Cottle, Shelby McGraw; HR — Cottle.
WNCC 321 31 — 10 12 2
NE Colorado 000 00 — 0 1 0
WP — RaVae Herrera; 2B — Cash, Cottle, Haley Paxton; HR — Cottle, Duran.