College softball: Arnott helps Indians split doubleheader

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 8, 2021

By Mike London

SALISBURY — Freshman Whitley Arnott pitched her first complete game for Catawba’s softball team on Wednesday.

A 5-2 win by Arnott in the second game gave the Indians a split of an afternoon doubleheader against Wingate at Whitley Field. The Bulldogs took a 4-3 victory in the opener.

“It was one of the better games I’ve pitched,” Arnott said. “It was right up there with the game we won against Lincoln Memorial.”

Senior shortstop Jordan Dean powered homers in both games for Catawba, her 10th and 11th of the season.

Brooke Walser (9-4) pitched well enough to win in the first game — six innings, seven hits, one walk, three earned runs — but the Indians only managed four hits against Wingate’s Aubrey Reep (5-3).

Sam Hogan’s homer in the sixth for a 4-2 Wingate lead proved decisive. Dean hit a solo homer leading off the bottom of the sixth to slice the deficit to 4-3.

Madison Hunter got the Bulldogs (16-16, 9-9) out in the top of the seventh, but Catawba went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

Catawba (22-8, 9-7) has won seven of its last nine games and was able to turn things around in the nightcap.

The key was a terrific bottom of the second. Catawba hitters produced five straight hits with two outs to grab a 4-0 lead.  Allie Baker singled, and Bailey Benton doubled her home. No. 9 batter Sommer Gray singled to extend the inning and got the Indians back to the top of the lineup. Sydney Goertzen stroked a two-run double to knock out starting pitcher Kaitlyn Knuckles. Carlee Brawley’s run-scoring single capped the inning.

“We had some great hitting in the second game,” Arnott said. “All a pitcher could ask for.”

Arnott (4-1, 2.97 ERA) pitched well with the lead, but Wingate broke through for two runs in the top of the fifth. Dean got one back in the bottom half with a homer to center field.

Arnott, who struck out seven and walked one, was able to hold the lead without assistance from the bullpen. Wingate had only one baserunner in the final two innings.

“Curveball, screwball, riseball — they were all working today,” said Arnott, who starred at West Rowan. “I was able to get ahead in the count and got a lot of outs by getting them to swing at pitches out of the strike zone.”

Catawba was able to stay in fourth place in the South Atlantic Conference with the split. Catawba already has divided doubleheaders with Lincoln Memorial, Anderson and Lenoir-Rhyne, the three teams ahead of the Indians in the standings.

Catawba will be on the road for its next six games, taking on UVa Wise, Carson-Newman and Queens.