ATLANTA, Ga. (Feb. 20, 2010) - Junior newcomer Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) tossed eight innings of one-run ball and senior shortstop Cheniece Cason's (Moreno Valley, Calif.) sacrifice fly RBI broke a 1-all tie in the eighth, as ETSU edged out Eastern Illinois 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Panther Invitational in Atlanta. Earlier in the day, the Lady Bucs' rally fell short against Temple, as the Owls downed ETSU 6-4 from Georgia State's Bob Heck Field.
With the split, ETSU improved to 3-2 after its first five games of 2010.
Freshman first baseman Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) broke a scoreless game in the fourth when her second hit of the game flew over the left field fence - giving ETSU the 1-0 lead and marking the Buchanan, Ga. native's first home run of her ETSU career.
However, Eastern Illinois quickly evened the game at one, as the Panthers also used the long-ball to their liking. Melinda Jackson copied Garner by taking a two-out pitch over the fence for EIU's first run of the season.
From there, the Lady Buccaneer bats went cold and Duncan did a solid job keeping Eastern Illinois off the board. The Panthers left runners in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings - leading to ETSU's extra-inning heroics.
After a tie game through seven innings, the international tiebreaker rule went into effect, as Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) was placed on second to start the top half of the eighth. The Centerville, Tenn. native advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Campbell's fly out to left was deep enough to send Martin home - giving ETSU the 2-1 victory.
Eastern Illinois (0-1) had its chance in the bottom of the inning, but with one out and a runner on third; Duncan got the next two EIU hitters to pop out and end the game.
Duncan picked up her second straight win after striking out nine and scattering three hits. Junior left-hander Amber May suffered the loss after issuing two runs (one earned) and striking out six (no walks).
ETSU VS TEMPLE RECAP
The Lady Bucs dug an early hole, trailing 4-0 after three innings, and ETSU couldn't cap off the rally as Temple hung on for the 6-4 victory on Saturday morning.
Katy Jett led the Lady Bucs with two of their seven hits; while Arielle Garner finished 1-for-3 with a double. However, early struggles in the circle proved to be too much for ETSU to overcome.
Sophomore right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) made just her second collegiate start and it didn't last long, as she went a third of an inning. Morris gave up two runs, three walks and didn't allow a hit.
Temple (1-0) jumped out to the quick 2-0 lead as Morris walked three straight Owl hitters after forcing Kristen Marris to pop out to short. Morris' morning was done following the third straight walk - and after Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) struck out the first hitter she faced - it looked like ETSU may escape without any damage. Unfortunately, Michelle Lerner stepped up with a two-out, two-run scoring single to plate the first two runs of the game.
After the Lady Bucs left runners stranded on second and third in the second, Temple tacked on two more runs on three hits in the top of the third. Once again, the Owls used clutch two-out hitting, as Kayla Cook's double to right-center made it a 4-0 game. Eventually, Temple led 5-0 after scoring an additional run in the fourth.
Finally, ETSU mustered some offense in the fifth, cutting the Owl lead to 5-2. Sophomore Marlina Delisa began the inning with a single to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then, Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) followed that up with a single of her own, moving Delisa over to third. That's when head coach Andrea Mangrum got creative on the base-path, as she called for the double steal. The call worked as Delisa stole home; however, Henderson was tagged out after trying to go from first to third on the play. Having Henderson making the out at third was costly, because Amy Campbell singled through the right side on the next play - and she came in to score on Cheniece Cason's (Moreno Valley, Calif.) RBI groundout.
A leadoff homer by Marris in the sixth added to the Temple lead, but the Lady Bucs wouldn't go down without a fight. ETSU scored one run in the sixth on Sam Lower's (Sebring, Fla.) RBI single and the Lady Bucs made it 6-4 when Annie Martin touched home plate in the seventh. However, with the tying runners aboard, Marris struck out Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) to stop the comeback.
Marris (1-0) went the distance, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out five and walking three. Senior Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) tossed three innings on one-run ball in relief. The Rocklin, Calif. native gave up two hits but fanned six.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Sunday afternoon when ETSU faces host Georgia State at 12:15 p.m.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, stay tuned to ETSUBucs.com.