Hardy's three-hit shutout carries ETSU to victory over Mercer

Thursday, May 08, 2008

DELAND, Fla. (May 8, 2008) - Sophomore right-hander Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) has been the ace of ETSU's pitching staff all season. Hardy carried the dominance into game one of the 2008 Atlantic Sun Tournament as her three-hit shutout lifted the Softball Bucs to a 2-0 victory over Mercer Thursday morning from Patricia Wilson Field.


The win moved ETSU's record to 29-31 - which tied the school record for most wins in a single season. The Lady Bucs accomplished the feat back in 2004; while Mercer fell to 31-26 on the campaign.


Junior Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.) extended her hitting streak to a season-high nine games with her bunt single in the first inning, but was caught stealing to make the final out. Hardy cruised through the bottom half of the first as she struck out a pair of Mercer hitters; including the league's leading hitter Jamie Madruga to end the frame.


ETSU's defense helped Hardy in the third as Amanda Santa Maria's liner to right held up long enough for McCoy to charge in and make a stellar catch. Then, on the following at-bat, Holly Oglesbee hit one to the deepest part of the park, but Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) made an amazing grab as she was able to hang on to the ball after colliding into the wall at the 209-foot marker in center.  


The Softball Bucs were able to carry the momentum into the top of the fourth as McCoy reached for the second time of the game by working a one-out walk. After Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, junior Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to right-center. Hackworth - who is ETSU's leading hitter over the last 12 games - recorded the team's second hit of the game and gave the Lady Bucs a 1-0 lead as McCoy scored easily from second.


Hardy worked out of a little jam in the bottom half of the frame. Her powerful pitching and dominant defense kept the Bears off the board. Mercer's Page Raynor led off the inning with a single to left and advanced to second on Jena Ellis' two-out single up the middle; however, the runners were left stranded after Hackworth made a solid defensive grab in foul territory at third to end any threat. Hardy fanned Madruga for the second time of the morning and Ashley Anderson in between plays - moving her game total to five punch outs.


ETSU missed a chance to break the game open in the fifth after Kate Powell (Johnson City) reached on a bunt single and senior second baseman Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) moved Powell over to second and also reached after Madrgua mishandled a sacrifice bunt at first. Unfortunately, Jenni Holtz struck out Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and forced Jett to line out to second to end the inning.


Once again defensive plays continued to help Hardy in the circle. Mercer's Crystal Condra laid down a bunt down the first base line to lead off the bottom of the fifth, but Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) was able to scoop up the ball and find Knight at the bag at first. Knight did a tremendous holding onto the ball and keeping her foot on the bag after Condra was sent sailing when she kneed Knight in the quad. Knight continued to make plays in the frame as she made a nice back-pedaling grab on Gigi Eykamp's pop to short right-center, and Hackworth continued make the highlight reel by stabbing a liner off the bat from Santa Maria to end the inning.


The Lady Bucs plated an insurance run in the seventh. Hardy helped her caused with a one-out double to fence in left-center. Hardy was replaced by pinch-runner Cat Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and she moved to third when Powell laid down an excellent bunt single. With one out and runners on second and third, Knight found a pitch to her liking and drove in Zyskowski with a sacrifice fly to center.    


Hardy sent the Bear batters down 1-2-3 in the seventh to tab her fifth shutout of the season and improved her record to 18-13. The Rocklin, Calif. native - who was making a single-season best 38th appearance - allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked one. Holtz saw her record drop to 14-11 after allowing two runs on five hits.


Powell posted two of the five ETSU hits and her stolen base marked the Lady Bucs' 92nd theft of the season - which is two away of setting a new program record.


ETSU resumes to action at 8 p.m. when they face the winner of Stetson/Campbell. The Hatters and Camels square off at 1 p.m.


Fans unable to make the trip to DeLand, can view all the action by visiting, http://asun.playonsports.tv/ or click the link above.


Stay tuned to www.ETSUBucs.com for more information regarding the conference tournament and all other Buccaneer athletic news.

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