GREENVILLE, S.C. (Feb. 18, 2010) - After dropping its season-opener last weekend at Charlotte, the ETSU softball team bounced back in a big way, as the Lady Bucs swept Furman on Thursday afternoon from Pepsi Field in Greenville, S.C.
Senior outfielder Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) broke out of an 0-for-6 hitting slump by jacking a two-run homer in the fifth and freshman infielder Lucy Schneider (Dade City, Fla.) went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBI, lifting the Lady Bucs to 5-3 victory in game one. Freshman Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) belted a two-run home run and junior newcomer Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) tossed six innings of two-run ball, as ETSU knocked off the Paladins 5-4 in the nightcap.
With the sweep, ETSU improved 2-1 on the young season, while Furman dropped to 1-2.
In the two games, Schneider led the Lady Bucs - batting .400 (2-5) with two doubles, a run scored and four RBI. Meanwhile, Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) was 3-for-8 (.375) with a double, three runs scored and two stolen bases.
Game One Recap
Katy Jett flexed her muscles and knocked a two-run bomb out of the park and freshman Lucy Schneider enjoyed a career-high three RBI day, and ETSU defeated Furman 5-3 in game one on Thursday.
Just like in the opener at Charlotte, the Lady Bucs wasted a scoring chance in the top of the first. Cheniece Cason's bat remained hot, as she recorded her third hit of the season to lead off the game; however, after Lucy Schneider moved her over to second on a sacrifice bunt Cason was left stranded. With one out and Cason on second, Katy Jett grounded out to second and Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) hit into an inning-ending grounder to third.
Leaving Cason standing on third proved to critical, as Furman used some small-ball to manufacture its first run in the bottom half of the inning. Katie Michaels worked a one-out walk, stole second and moved over to third on Jessie Homesley's ground out to short. Then, with two outs and Michaels on third, Morgan Hughey drove her in by belting an RBI single up the middle - giving the Paladins a 1-0 lead. Senior righty Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) did a solid job by working out of a bases loaded jam, as she got Alyssa Williams out swinging to end the frame.
The Lady Bucs finally rattled sophomore right-hander Hannah Bradley in the third, as Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) and Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After Cason reached on a fielder's choice, Schneider came through with a scorching double down the left field line - scoring Campbell and Cason - putting ETSU ahead, 2-1.
Unfortunately, the ETSU lead didn't last long, because Hughey drove in her second run of the afternoon with a one-out solo homer to right-center in the bottom of the inning.
Once again Furman threatened in the fourth, but Gilbert did an excellent job maintaining her composure in the circle. With one out and runners on first and second, the senior Murfreesboro, Tenn. native forced Stephanie Field to pop out at second; while inducing Michaels to end the inning with a soft tapper back to her in the pitchers' circle.
ETSU broke things open with a three-run fifth inning thanks to Jett's two-run bomb to left. After Schneider's double in the third, Bradley retired seven straight Lady Buccaneer hitters until Cason began a two-out hit parade for the Blue and Gold. Cason posted her second single of the afternoon with an infield hit to short and moved into scoring position by stealing second. Then, Schneider's big bat came through again in the clutch, as she ripped her second double of the afternoon - plating Cason from second and putting ETSU back on top, 3-2. Jett, an Atlantic Sun Preseason selection, waited for the best time to break out of her early season hitting slump, as she sent one flying over the fence in left - which extended the Lady Bucs' lead to 5-2 and chased Bradley out of the circle.
The Paladins inched closer in the bottom half of the sixth as Gilbert lost her command in the circle. Gilbert hit Brythe Blankenship to start the inning - and after getting Williams to fly out to center - the senior walked Taylor Beam to set up runners on first and second with only one out. The Murfreesboro, Tenn. native looked to get out of the inning unscathed, but with two outs Field cut the Furman deficit to 5-3 when her RBI single plated Blankenship. However, Beam got careless on the base path and was tagged out in a run-down between second and third to end the inning.
Gilbert earned the first win of the season for the Lady Bucs, as she sent the Paladins down in order in the seventh. The righty went all seven innings while allowing three runs on eight hits and struck out two. Meanwhile, Bradley suffered the loss after going 4.2 innings and surrendering five runs on eight hits.
Game Two Recap
Jessica Duncan was solid in her first start as a Lady Buc and freshman Sam Lower connected on her first collegiate home run, as the Lady Bucs pulled off the sweep with a 5-4 win in game two.
After going through the first three innings without a hit, the Lady Bucs struck for four runs on four hits in the fourth to break a stalemate, as ETSU grabbed a 4-0 lead. Katy Jett began the inning with an infield single and quickly moved herself into scoring position by jetting her way to second on a steal. Following a Trisha Massenzo bunt single, the Russellville, Tenn. native stole second - putting runners on second and third with nobody out. Freshman infielder Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) then came through with the first RBI of the game, as her bunt single was executed to perfection. The bunt scored Jett from third and moved Massenzo 60 feet from home plate. The freshmen talent continued to produce when Whitley Hensley's (Erwin, Tenn.) RBI groundout scored Massenzo - leading to Sam Lower's heroics on the next at-bat. Lower added some extra cushion to the Lady Buccaneer lead, as she connected on her first collegiate home run - giving ETSU a four-run advantage.
ETSU plated one more run in the fifth when Cheniece Cason led off with a double to left-center, stole third and scored on Lucy Schneider's sac-fly to right.
After keeping the Paladins scoreless through the first four innings, Furman pushed a pair of runs across the dish in the bottom half of the fifth - making it a 5-2 Lady Buccaneer advantage.
Duncan kept Furman off the board from there and was pulled after she completed the sixth. Duncan picked up her first win at ETSU, as she issued two runs on six hits and fanned six Paladin hitters. Sophomore righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) entered in relief to pick up her first collegiate save and the Lady Bucs' first since the 2007 season.
Furman's Stephanie Mihaly was tagged with the loss after lasting four innings and giving up four runs on four hits.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Saturday morning when ETSU travels to Atlanta for the two-day Panther Invitational. ETSU takes on Temple (10 a.m.) and Eastern Illinois (4:45 p.m.) on Saturday; while squaring off with host Georgia State on Sunday at 12:15 p.m.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, stay tuned to ETSUBucs.com.