Softball: Home Runs help Phoenix top PSC

Cats play Kankakee today in must-win game for both

CLINTON, MIss. — Alyssa Fernandez hit her 23rd home run of the season and Monique Castillo also went deep to help send third-seeded Phoenix College to an 8-2 win over 14th-seeded Potomac State in the opening round of the Junior College Division 2 National Softball Tournament.

Castillo, who leads the nation in home runs, also doubled, scored twice and knocked in two runs for the Bears (526). Samantha Rea doubled twice, Amanda Preach doubled and singled, and Dustie Derham and Shelby Fusich doubled.

The Bears had 11 hits, with eight going for extra bases.

Potomac State (26-14) led 2-1 after   2 1/2 innings, but Phoenix took control with a five-run fourth that made it a 7-2 spread.

The Catamounts set up shop in the second inning, loading the bases with no outs on a single by Abby Gillingham and walks to Kadi Cosgrove and Megan Newcomb. Gillingham scored on a passed ball, and Cosgrove came home on a groundout by Jordyn Munson to put the Cats up 2-1.

Phoenix did further damage by getting a ground out and a strikeout to end the inning.

An RBI double by Rea tied it 2-2 in the third, and five runs after two were out in the fourth put the Bears on top to stay. Because of an infield error, all five runs were unearned. Fusich, Preach and Derham had RBI doubles before Fernandez hit a two-run homer.

Carly Nixon doubled and Gillingham and Cosgrove singled for Potomac   State, which was held to three hits.

Jordan Wehr threw the three-hitter for the win, walking five and striking out seven.

Cosgrove absorbed the loss. In 5 1/3 innings, she gave up 11 hits and eight runs, but only two were earned. She had one walk and no strikeouts.

Phoenix and Potomac State have played in the first round of the national tournament for three straight years. Phoenix won all three, 10-2, 9-2 and 8-2.

Phoenix was No. 3 in the most recent national poll and Potomac State was No. 20.

Potomac State plays sixth-seeded Kankakee, Illinois (46-11) today at 2:30 p.m. in a must-win game for both. Kankakee lost to No. 11 Lansing, Michigan 6-0 in its first-round game.