WOODSTOCK, Ga. (Mar. 3, 2007) - The ETSU softball team ran into a road block as they were swept in day two of the Buzz Classic, and were eliminated from the tournament on Saturday evening. The Bucs began the day dropping a hard fought battle to Florida A&M, 7-5, and then ran into powerful Big Ten foe Wisconsin in the second game, falling 14-5.
In ETSU's first game they ran into a team they were familiar with, as they downed Florida A&M, 7-4, at the Wilson Invitational last month. The Bucs (4-9) won the first game by scoring three runs in the ninth inning, and this time the Lady Rattlers got revenge as they tagged Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) for three runs in the eighth to break a 4-4 tie.
Florida A&M (2-15) attacked first as they roughed up sophomore starter Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), scoring four runs on five hits through three-plus innings. After scoring one run in the third, the Lady Rattlers forced Vercoe to make an early exit as they began the fourth with back-to-back doubles and then Alacia Strafford dealt the Bucs a big blow as she knocked a two-run home run to right field, putting Florida A&M up 4-0.
The ETSU bats finally woke up in the sixth as they finally had an answer for Alicia Mitchell by scoring four runs on four hits off the Lady Rattlers starter. The Bucs took advantage of all the mistakes Florida A&M threw at them as they committed three errors in the inning, leading all the runs being unearned. Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) started the inning as she reached on an error and moved up a base after a wild pitch. Gaynord scored one play later when Katy Jett (Talbot, Tenn.) started an offensive explosion for the Bucs by posting four consecutive singles, as Vercoe, Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) and Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) also joined the hit parade. Jett and Vercoe both scored on Haverman's single, and Haverman eventually crossed the plate for ETSU's fourth run of the frame when Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) laid down a bunt. ETSU had an opportunity to add more runs on the board as they had runners on second and third, but an inning ending ground out by Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) stopped the rally.
Gilbert worked out of a jam in the seventh when she got Brittany Newby to ground out to Gaynord with runners on second and third. The Bucs had the game-winning run on second in the bottom half of the inning, but they could not get the run across the plate. Florida A&M then made ETSU pay in the eighth, when Turel Farmer smashed a three-run home run off Gilbert, putting the Lady Rattlers up 7-4. The Bucs would not go down without a fight as they put the first two runners on to begin the inning and a Massenzo single scored Haveman, placing the tying run at first with only one out. However, the Lady Rattlers hurler settled down as she got the next two ETSU hitters out, ending any threat for the Bucs.
In the second game, the Wisconsin (9-4) offense was too much to handle as they defeated ETSU 14-5. The Bucs did push the first run across the plate in the third, when Gaynord walked and then scored when Hackworth singled to right two plays later. The lead would not last long as the Badgers scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Wisconsin led off with back-to-back singles and both runs crossed the plate when Ricci Robben doubled to right off Vercoe. ETSU tied it in the fourth when Haverman led off the inning with home run to right, but Wisconsin's eight-run fourth opened the game up, making it difficult for the Bucs to recover from the 10-2 deficit. Haverman tried to her best to keep the Bucs in the game as her single scored two of the three runs ETSU pushed across the plate in the fifth, cutting the lead to 10-5; however, Wisconsin's offense would not go away as they scored the game's final four runs.
After dropping three games in the tournament the Bucs were eliminated from the Buzz Classic on Saturday night. ETSU will continue on its road trip as they head down to Orlando, Fla. to play in the Rebel Games which begin on Thursday, Mar. 8.