Appalachian jumped out to a six run lead after two innings and held on to beat Virginia 6-5, and advance to the regional championship against the winner of Oklahoma and Virginia, who will battle in an elimination game. Seth Grant battled for six innings, giving up six hits and five runs while striking out four batters. Ryne Frankoff came on for the seventh and eighth innings, giving up three harmless hits. Nathan Hyatt worked the ninth for his sixteenth save of the season while walking one batter and striking out another.
The offensive attack was led by a three hit effort from Trey Holmes. Preston Troutman also recorded two hits and scored a run. All six Mountaineer runs were scored by different players. The Mountaineers capitalized by throwing errors on Virginia in the second inning. Appalachian commited four errors themselves, but were able to play through the mistakes. Tyler Zupcic did not play with a strained knee ligament, and Preston Troutman played centerfield with Brandon Burris playing in left. Appalachian is now one win away from advancing to its first ever super regional. Appalachin will have two chances to win one against either Virginia or Oklahoma.
The result might not have been what they were hoping for, but the Mountaineer women have to feel pretty good about the season they had. Despite failing to win the Southern Conference tournament and earning a bid to the NCAA tournament, Appalachian (27-7) made the most of their season in the end. Appalachian only lost seven games all season long, but two of those games were to the Virginia Cavaliers, the first game and the last. The second game was a much more respectable score, but in the end, Appalachian could not stop the hot shooting of the Cavaliers who prevailed 74-58. Virginia shot 57% for the game and forced 28 Mountaineer turnovers, which they converted into 35 points. Those three statistics pretty much sum up the game. Every Mountaineer who played turned the ball over at least once.
One bright spot of the WNIT for Appalachian was the play of freshman Katie Mallow. She started each game in the WNIT, and score double figures in each game, averaging 14.3 points per game. Anna Freeman averaged 17.6 points per game in the WNIT, highlighted by a 26 point performance against NC State. The development of a second and third consistent scorer, coupled with Maryah Sydnor, on this team will only open up the game more for Anna Freeman next season.
Appalachian hopes to erase the memories of the first game they played this season, against these same Virginia Cavaliers in the WNIT’s Sweet 16 on Thursday Night in Charlottesville. Virginia defeated Richmond on Monday night 68-55 and were led by senior Ariana Moorer, who tallied 16 points, 8 assists and five steals. The game marked the 25th time this season that Virginia held an opponent to fewer than 60 points. Appalachhian is among those twenty-five, as they lost to Virginia 80-48.
In the first game, just by looking at a boxscore, one can tell that Appalachian has changed a lot since that game, and did not particularly play well. Anna Freeman fouled out and only played 19 minutes. Raven Gary, who has started some games in the latter part of the season for the Mountaineers, only played two minutes. Marayh Sydnor and Katie Mallow combined for 6/18 shooting in 52 combined minutes. I expect the freshman to play a much larger role in this game, now that they have some experience, compared to their first game as collegians.
I surely dont expect another thirty point loss. Appalachian has experience in games of this magnitude. After the emtional win on Saturday, the Mountaineers have had some time to celebrate and refocus on the task at hand. Besides playing each other earlier in the season, the only other common opponent was NC State. Both teams won their respective games in Raleigh with Virginia beating the Wolfpack by eight points, and the Mountaineers winning by four points.