JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 1, 2009) - With the ETSU softball team looking to close out its 2009 regular season on a high note and carry the momentum into next week's conference tournament, Radford entered Johnson City and burst the Lady Bucs' bubble by sweeping the non-conference doubleheader inside the ETSU Softball Complex on Friday night. The Highlanders used back-to-back one-out home runs in the sixth inning to rally past the Lady Bucs 3-2 in game one, and Radford hung on to win a wild one in the nightcap, 7-4.
The Lady Bucs wrapped up the regular season with a 27-26 mark and head into next week's Atlantic Sun Tournament as the number five seed. Radford capped off its regular season with a 37-12 record.
Junior right-hander Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) tossed a solid outing in the opener, but gave up back-to-back home runs in the sixth which proved to be the difference maker. Hardy suffered the loss (17-14) despite allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out seven and issuing zero walks. Chelsea Kelley earned the win and pushed her mark to 21-6 after surrendering two runs on three hits.
ETSU looked to have things rolling in the bottom of the second inning, as the first three Lady Buccaneer hitters reached base; however, Kelley kept her composure and recorded three consecutive outs to leave the runners stranded.
Radford quickly gained the momentum and grabbed a 1-0 lead on Leigh Godfrey's RBI single to right, which scored the speedy Lauren Williams from second.
The Lady Bucs eventually took a 2-1 lead when senior first baseman Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) blasted the first pitch she saw from Kelley in the fourth inning over the fence in left-center. Hackworth's fifth homer of the season also scored junior catcher Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) - who led off the inning with a double to the gap in left.
With the Lady Bucs leading and Hardy dealing in the circle things looked to be up for ETSU until a freakish play in the sixth turned all the momentum back to Radford. After Hardy retired Williams for the first out in the sixth, Godfrey sent a ball flying to left - which put senior Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.) on the run - unfortunately as McCoy couldn't track down the ball in time her momentum forced her to collide into a post on the left field gate and knocked her to the ground. By the time Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) hustled over from center to field the ball, Godfrey circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run and tied the game at 2-all. Then, Kristen Shifflett followed with her 11th bomb on the year and her solo home run put Radford up for good, 3-2.
Kelley retired six of the final seven Lady Buccaneer batters she faced to pick up the win for Radford.
Game Two Recap
After falling behind by six runs through the first two and a half innings in game two, ETSU rallied for four runs in the third, but it was not enough to cool off Radford as the Highlanders capped off the sweep with a 7-4 victory.
Radford scored one run in the top of the second and began a crazy third inning where both clubs combined for nine runs on 10 hits and three errors. Godfrey and Shifflett continued to cause problems for ETSU's pitchers, as they began the top of the third with back-to-back solo home runs. After junior Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) entered in relief of Marissa Hardy, the Murfreesboro, Tenn. native picked up two quick outs. Unfortunately, after a walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases, Gilbert issued a walk to Meredith Moore and gave the Highlanders a 4-0 advantage. Radford capped off the inning by taking full use of an error by Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) at short and scored two unearned runs to make it a 6-0 contest.
However, the Lady Bucs showed their strong and gritty character by responding for four runs on six hits in the bottom half of the frame and cut the deficit to, 6-4. Vicki McCoy and Cheniece Cason led off with back-to-back singles to start the inning. With runners on first and third and no outs, junior Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) plated the first ETSU run with a sacrifice fly to left. Then, after Cason was called out on a questionable caught stealing play at second, the Lady Bucs posted their rally by receiving a two-run scoring single from Annie Martin and an RBI single by Chelsea O'Connor (Knoxville), making it a 6-4 ballgame.
From there the Lady Bucs put runners in scoring position in the next three innings but couldn't come up with the clutch hit to grab momentum.
Radford tacked on an insurance run with two outs in the seventh to take a 7-4 lead.
Hardy was tagged for her second loss of the day after allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits in two innings of work. Radford's Rebecca Whalley tossed two innings of scoreless ball, moving her record to 5-1; while Chelsea Kelley kept ETSU scoreless for the final 2.1 IP and en route to earning her fourth save of the season.
Cason led ETSU offensively by going 3-for-4, while Campbell and O'Connor also pitched in with multi-hit efforts. Campbell went 2-for-4 with a run scored and O'Connor finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.
The Lady Bucs will now turn their attention to the 2009 Atlantic Sun Tournament, which begins Thursday, May 7 at Stetson's Patricia Wilson Field in DeLand, Fla. ETSU knows it will play at 1 p.m. on Thursday, but its opponent is yet to be determined (either Lipscomb or Mercer).
For more information of Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.