CULLOWHEE, N.C. (April 29, 2009) - Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) used her speed to manufacture a first-inning run and fellow junior Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) tossed her seventh shutout of the season, as ETSU pushed its way past Western Carolina, 2-0, in game one on Wednesday evening inside the Catamount Softball Complex.
With the win, ETSU moved its mark to 26-24 on the season, while the Catamounts - who were blanked for the third consecutive game - fell to 11-33.
The Lady Bucs used some small-ball in the first inning to plate the first run of the contest. Cason led off with a bunt single down the third base line and advanced to second on her 15th stolen base of the season. Then, after Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) moved Cason over to third on a sac bunt, Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) came through with a one-out RBI single to left - which put ETSU ahead 1-0. ETSU had a chance to add to its lead, but Western Carolina's second baseman Keri Burnside gunned down Massenzo at the plate when she tried to score on Amy Campbell's (Hixson, Tenn.) fielder's choice. Following the fielder's choice, the Lady Bucs loaded the bases on Annie Martin's (Centerville, Tenn.) infield single to short, but Katie King induced Hardy into an inning-ending grounder back to circle.
Western Carolina ran itself out of a run in the bottom half of the inning thanks to Massenzo's cannon behind the plate. Kristen Gay led off with an infield single to second and moved to second on Danielle Reese's sacrifice bunt. However, the Catamounts got greedy on the base path when Gay tried stealing third, but Massenzo gunned her down for the second out of the frame. Fortunately, Massenzo tossed Gay out, because Chelsea Schaffer took a 3-2 pitch to right field for a single - keeping a Catamount run off the board. Hardy continued to keep Western Carolina off the board by forcing Stephanie Beatty to pop out to second.
ETSU threatened with a pair of two-out singles in the third, but King struck Hardy out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to end any Lady Buccaneer scoring chance.
Once again Catamount base running blunders cost them in the bottom of the third. Chere Monday worked a leadoff walk and moved to second on Reese's single to center field. Then, after both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Hardy, Jett made an outstanding diving catch at second and doubled off Reese to end the inning.
Hardy found herself in a pickle during the bottom half of the fourth, but the Rocklin, Calif. native did an impressive job working out of a bases loaded jam. Western Carolina loaded the bags on King's one-out single to left; however, Hardy settled in by forcing Brittany Barrineau to pop out to first and struck out Monday for her second punch out of the afternoon to keep the Lady Bucs on top, 1-0.
The Lady Bucs added to their lead in fifth thanks to Campbell's one-out RBI double to left-center. ETSU began the inning with Massenzo reaching on a throwing error by Shaffer at short - and after she advanced to second on Jessie Hackworth's (Clinton, Tenn.) sac but - Campbell came through with her fifth two-bagger of the season.
Hardy went on to win her 16th decision of the year after allowing seven hits and striking out five. Meanwhile, King suffered her 16th loss of the season after allowing two runs on 10 hits in seven innings of work.
Cason continued her solid performance at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a run scored and two stolen bases, and the Moreno Valley, Calif. native has now hit safely in 20 of her last 25 games. Martin posted a career high three-hit effort, while Massenzo drove in the game-winning run and scored the second Lady Buccaneer run of the game.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.