By Ryan Cantrell, Sports Writer
The Wildcats continued their strong play over the weekend, sweeping Texas A&M-Kingsville in a three-game series at home and improving to 24-9 overall and 8-1 in the Lone Star Conference. The Wildcats also extended their winning streak to eight and jumped Angelo State to move into first place in the LSC South Division.
“We came out again ready to compete in every game and in every inning,” head coach Chantiel Wilson said. “Even when we were behind, we kept competing and came back in the games.”
ACU played a doubleheader Friday against Kingsville’s Javelinas. The games were dominated on the mound for the Wildcats as pitchers Jacque Gregoire and Kim Partin both pitched complete games and picked up wins. In the first game, Gregoire struck out five and only gave up two runs on seven hits. In the second, Partin picked up where she left off last week, allowing three hits and one unearned run.
Along with good pitching from Gregoire, the Wildcat offense was sparked by first baseman Katie Cornelison in the first game. Cornelison had a pair of home runs, including a clutch three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Wildcats a 5-2 lead. This would make the ultimate difference in the game as the Wildcats won 5-2.
In the second game, the Wildcats jumped out early on the Javelinas, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first. Infielder Jenny Kulp had an RBI double followed by infielder Jackie Gentile’s sacrifice fly to put ACU ahead 2-0 in the first inning. This was enough run support for Partin in the first inning, although the Wildcats added one more in the second for good measure. Javelina pitcher Courtney Rigamonti came into the game for Jessica Schneider and was dominant, but Partin ultimately was better, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out five in seven innings; the win improved Partin’s record to 4-1.
“Partin has stuck with her game plan this season and has not tried to overpower hitters, but has just relaxed on the mound and has built confidence in her pitching,” Wilson said.
In the final game Saturday, ACU’s offense came alive to complete the sweep. The Wildcats entered the fifth inning, trailing 3-2 before rallying back. Infielder Melissa Rodriguez started the inning off with a single, followed by outfielders Brooke Whittlesey’s infield single. After a Wildcat strikeout, catcher Jessica Shiery walked to load the bases. Cornelison singled to score the game-tying run on the next at bat, and Gentile added an RBI after being hit by a pitch to put ACU ahead 4-3. The bases remained loaded for third baseman Nancy Sawyers, who hammered the ball for a grand slam, putting the game away 8-3. Partin relieved Gregoire in the fourth inning, allowing just three hits and no runs in the final 3 1/3 innings to earn her fifth win of the season. Partin earned LSC South Pitcher of the Week honors after allowing no runs and picking up two of ACU’s three wins against the Javelinas.
“We had three great pitching performances and clutch hitting this weekend,” Wilson said. “We just need to be more consistent in scoring runs in every inning instead of just waiting for the big inning, even though we will take the big inning.”
The Wildcats will travel to Durant, Okla., this weekend for the LSC Crossover Tournament, playing six games in three days, beginning on Friday against Southeastern Oklahoma at 10:30 a.m.