By Steve Keenan
It’s been an up-and-down season for a young WVU Tech softball team, but that hasn’t dampened third-year coach Karin Gadberry’s enthusiasm.
“Recently we’ve had a lot of success,” Gadberry said of her squad’s overall efforts. “I don’t think people realize.”
“We’re sitting at fifth in the USCAA poll, and we’re trying to get to Akron (for the May 13-16 USCAA National Tournament),” she continued.
Coming off a 29-16 season a year ago, the Golden Bears have faced the 2013 campaign with a relatively young roster that includes just three seniors (Katie Campbell, Ali Holmes and Stephanie Nickell, the latter whom is currently injured) and doesn’t include standout pitcher Jessica Stapleton, who graduated after earning 15 mound wins a year ago.
“We have a lot of challenges. ... We’re really young, especially on the mound (two freshmen and a sophomore),” Gadberry continued. “It’s that growing process. With a lot of underclassmen, we’re taking our bumps right now.”
On Monday, Tech dropped a pair of games to visiting Glenville State College, 4-3 and 13-5, to dip to 10-12 going into a doubleheader at Bluefield College today. On Sunday, the Bears swept a pair of games from USCAA rival Southern State Community College, 17-0 and 13-0.
In five innings of work on the mound in the Sunday opener, sophomore Jacki Wood pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out a career-high 11 batters. She also led Tech at the plate, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs.
In the second game, the Golden Bears continued their offensive tear by scoring 13 runs on 20 hits. And, freshman Taylor Norman, making her first collegiate pitching start, fashioned a no-hitter while registering a career-high 10 strikeouts.
Offensively, outfielder Emily Geldbach led the team on the day, going 7-for-8 with one RBI. Senior Ali Holmes (4-for-7, three RBIs) and freshman Genna Trippett (4-for-7, two RBIs) also contributed to the Tech offensive surge with home runs.
The two wins against Southern State CC allowed Tech to capture the 200th victory in the program’s history at the school.
“Today was a big accomplishment in our program’s history winning our 200th game,” Gadberry told the school’s athletics website, www.goldenbearathletics.com. “We came out and hit the ball very well throughout the lineup.
“Congrats to Taylor on her first collegiate no-hitter and win and to Jacki with the one-hit shutout.”
Against Glenville in the first game, Campbell, Wood, Megan Blythe and Trippett had singles for Tech, which led 2-0 after four innings.
The Pioneers were led by Christie Hittel, who was 2-for-3. Meagan Lesser drove in two runs and Samantha Weaver had a home run.
Jessica Fedor earned the pitching win.
Kayleigh Huck was 3-for-5 with two RBIs to pace Glenville in the second outing. Brittany May got the pitching win.
For Tech, Kat Lively was 2-for-4. Trippett, Geldbach, Holmes and Bridgett Goss drove in runs.
WVU Tech dropped to 10-12 on the season, while the Lady Pioneers improved to 17-7.
“We just have to get out there and play hard every day,” Gadberry said.
Through 22 games, Goss is hitting at a .378 clip (14-for-37) with six doubles and 16 RBIs. Campbell is next at .375 (24-for-64) with four homers and 17 RBIs, and Trippett is hitting .371 (26-for-70) with six two-baggers and 19 RBIs.
Others providing offensive punch include Lively (.358, 29 hits), Blythe (.348), Geldbach (.333, 19 hits) and Wood (.333, 23 hits, 19 RBIs).
Goss has a 5-6 mound record with an ERA of 3.82, while Wood is 4-5 with a 3.99 ERA and 58 strikeouts.
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(Editor’s note: WVU Tech SID Jason Hendrix contributed to this story.)