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Lower, Leon guide Bucs to a split on final day of Quality Inn Classic
Nicholls State (1-7)
2/18/2012 | Troy, Ala. | Attendance: 44
#5 Missouri (3-1)
East Tennessee State (1-7)
2/19/2012 | Troy, Ala. | Attendance: 0
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Bucs blast Nicholls State, but fall to No. 5 Missouri
TROY, Ala. (Feb. 19, 2012) – Junior infielder Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) went a perfect 4-of-4 with a three-run home run and freshman right-hander Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) tossed 4.2 innings of one-run ball in relief, as the ETSU softball team picked up its first win of the season after defeating Nicholls State, 10-5, on Sunday morning at the Quality Inn Classic.
The Bucs (1-7) were unable to cap off the sweep despite recording two home runs against Missouri as the fifth-ranked Tigers belted three round trippers of their own to capture the 9-3 win at the Troy Sportsplex.
Freshman outfielder Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) extended her hitting streak to eight straight games to start the season after tallying one hit in each of the four games, while Lower led the Buccaneer offense this weekend with a .500 batting average. The preseason all-conference selection went 6-for-12 with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and six RBI at the tournament. Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) also provided the Blue and Gold with a spark after registering four hits in 11 at-bats, while blasting her first home run as a Buccaneer.
ETSU vs. Nicholls State
ETSU scored five runs in the second and Sam Lower belted a three-run home run in the fifth, lifting the Bucs over Nicholls State, 10-5, on Sunday morning at the Quality Inn Classic.
Lower – who went a perfect 4-for-4 with five RBI – also smashed a pair of doubles to go with her second round tripper of the season. Along with Lower, senior outfielder Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) and freshman infielder Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) helped fuel a spark at the top of the lineup. Martin, ETSU’s leadoff hitter, was 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Thompson recorded two hits, drove in two runs, and also crossed the plate twice.
Overall, as a team, the Blue and Gold tied a season-high in runs scored and ripped 14 hits, marking the second time this year ETSU has tallied double digits in that category.
The game, which was resumed after heavy rains brought a halt to the action after an inning of play on Saturday, saw the Bucs set the tone in the bottom of the second by plating five runs on five hits. A pair of freshman and Soddy Daisy high school teammates executed the first run of the frame as Alex Everett extended her hitting streak with a leadoff single to right – and after advancing to second and third via wild pitches – scored on Mariam Wood’s (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) first collegiate hit. Wood laced a double to center and came around to score on Thompson’s two-run scoring double to left, which also plated senior Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) – making it a 3-0 ballgame. From there, Lower gave the Blue and Gold the five-run cushion by posting one of her two doubles of the morning to score Thompson and Martin – who earlier reached on a single.
Just as the Bucs thought they were in the driver’s seat after two innings of play, the Colonels cut their deficit to one after scoring four runs in the top of the third. Nicholls State used the long ball to make it a 5-4 contest as Rachael Hugghins led off the third with a solo blast and pulled within a run on Ashley Ray’s three-run homer to left-center. Sophomore right-hander Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) saw her day come to an end in the circle after allowing the four runs (three earned) on four hits, but Whitney Leon entered in relief to guide ETSU to its first victory of the season. Leon retired the first two hitters she faced in the third and limited Nicholls State to only one run on three hits in the final 4.2 innings.
The Bucs provided Leon with some insurance runs by scoring two runs in the fourth and three more on Lower’s blast in the fifth.
Thompson scored the first run in the fourth after singling to center and later scored on a passed ball, while Lower – who ripped her second double of the game following Thompson’s single – beat the throw home when Wolff hit a slow roller back to the circle and Katie Moulder tried to get the lead runner out at the plate.
After the Colonels scored their final run in the top of the fifth, Lower flexed her muscles with two-outs in the bottom of the frame and sent one flying over the fence to put the Blue and Gold up, 10-5.
From there, Leon retired six of the final eight batters she faced to earn her first win at the collegiate level.
Nicholls State’s Ashton Bennett suffered the loss (0-3) after allowing five runs on seven hits in 1.1 innings of work, while the Colonels saw their record dip to 1-7 on the year.
Along with ETSU’s one-thru-three hitters, the bottom of the order also produced as the seven, eight, and nine hitters combined to go 5-for-9 with an RBI and four runs scored. Wood went 1-for-4 with the RBI and run scored, while Campbell and Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) each registered two hits apiece.
ETSU vs. Missouri
Katie Wolff belted a two-run homer in the second, while Casey Horner added a solo blast in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Bucs past No. 5 Missouri as the Tigers went on to defeat ETSU, 9-3, in the final game of the Quality Inn Classic on Sunday afternoon.
Horner recorded three of ETSU’s six hits as she was perfect in all three plate appearances, while Wolff smashed her first home run of the season.
The Tigers (3-1) scored one run in the first and two more in the second to take the early 3-0 advantage.
Missouri jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Nicole Hudson sent a one-out, full-count pitch over the fence in right-center in the top of the first, while some defensive lapses haunted the Bucs in the second as two errors led to Missouri plating a pair of runs. Corrin Genovese led off the second with a walk and moved to third when Lindsey Muller reached on a fielder’s choice on the next at-bat. With runners on first and second with no outs, Kelsi Jones lined out to third, but Genovese advanced to third on the play when Amy Campbell was charged with a throwing error. After Muller stole second, she was tagged out when Princess Krebs reached on a fielder’s choice. Then, with runners in scoring position and two outs, both Genovese and Krebs scored on Jenna Marston’s single, giving the Tigers a three-run cushion. Genovese scored on the single, while Krebs was sent home following a throwing error by Sam Lower at short.
ETSU regrouped in the bottom half of the inning and pulled within a run on Wolff’s two-run home run to left-center. However, after Alex Everett reached on a throwing error by Kristin Nottelmann in the circle and advanced to third following a pair of ground outs, the Bucs were unable to plate the game-tying run. Nottelmann worked out of the minor jam by forcing Nicole Fox to line out to center.
After both teams were sent down in order in the third, Missouri broke the game open courtesy of a solo homer by Muller and RBI singles from Marston and Hudson – giving the Tigers a 6-2 lead.
Once again the Bucs used the long ball to pull within three runs of Missouri as Horner belted her first home run in Blue and Gold to start the bottom of the fourth.
Despite working out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the fifth, the Bucs were unable to muster enough offense to pull off the come-from-behind win.
Missouri added two more runs in the sixth and Muller connected on her second homer of the game to solidify the six-run victory.
Nottelmann struck out eight ETSU hitters to earn her second win of the season, while Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) suffered the loss (0-4) after allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits in six innings of action. Morris faced one batter in the seventh, but was removed after Muller hit her second homer of the game. Freshman righty Kara Woods (Erwin, Tenn.) entered in relief and tossed one inning perfect ball, while also striking out one Tiger batter.
The Bucs return to the diamond next weekend when ETSU heads to Chattanooga for the Frost Classic, beginning Friday, Feb. 24. ETSU takes on Valparaiso in game one at 11 a.m.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.