JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 17, 2010) - On a day full of emotions, as the Lady Buccaneer softball program honored five talented seniors, Kennesaw State stepped in and played spoilers as the Owls swept the Blue and Gold Saturday afternoon at the ETSU Softball Complex.
Kennesaw State used a five-run fourth inning in game one to break things open, and the Owls flew their way to an 8-1 victory. The Lady Bucs looked to have responded in the nightcap, but Kennesaw State rallied from a three-run deficit to capture the sweep with its 5-4 comeback win in game two.
After sweeping Mercer on Friday night and keeping its Atlantic Sun Tournament hopes within reach, the Lady Bucs took a big step backwards on Saturday as ETSU dropped to 16-30, 5-11. The Owls improved to 23-19, 9-5 with the sweep.
Prior to the game, seniors Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.), Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.), Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) were honored with a special pregame ceremony. These five seniors stepped foot on ETSU's campus four years ago and since then have laid a solid foundation for the future classes to come - both on and off the field.
GAME TWO RECAP
With revenge on their minds, the Lady Bucs stepped up and took control early after leading 4-1 through the first four innings; however, the long-ball played a huge role in the Owls' comeback win as Kennesaw State belted three home runs - including Ashlee Burkett's game-winning solo shot in the seventh - which rallied the visitors from Georgia to the 5-4 victory.
Despite pounding out ten hits - including Cheniece Cason's 3-for-4 effort at the plate - Kennesaw State continued to chip away and found a way to win. Joining Cason with multi-hit games were junior Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) and freshman Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.). For the second time this weekend, Henderson went a perfect 2-for-2 at the dish with a run scored and was hit by a pitch. Lower ended 2-for-3 with a double and run scored.
Kennesaw State jumped ahead early on Burkett's two-out RBI single up the middle in the second, but ETSU stormed back with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning to take a 3-1 advantage. Henderson led things off with a scorching single to left - and Lower reached base as her bunt was placed perfectly between third and short - putting runners on first and second with nobody out. The Lady Bucs had the bases full when Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) was plunked on a 3-1 pitch, and Henderson and Lower came around to score on Arielle Garner's (Buchanan, Ga.) two-run scoring single to center on the next at-bat. Then, with runners on the corners and no outs, pinch runner Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) broke for second, and after Kennesaw State got her in a rundown, Hensley crossed the dish - putting ETSU ahead, 3-1.
ETSU extended its lead to 4-1 when Lucy Schneider (Dade City, Fla.) doubled home Cason with one out in the fourth; however, Kennesaw State evened things at four in the top of the fifth thanks to a two-run homer by game one winner Jessica Cross and a solo blast from Kelsey Kulk with two outs in the frame.
Then, after the Owls brought Cross back in the circle with one out in the fifth, the Lady Bucs couldn't muster up any offense. Cross kept ETSU hitless for the final 2.2 innings, and Burkett's leadoff homer in the seventh proved to the game-winner as it put Kennesaw up, 5-4.
After allowing one run on three hits to earn the win in game one, Cross improved to 13-7 after being tabbed with the win in game two. Senior righty Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) suffered the loss (4-10) after issuing five runs on ten hits in 7.0 innings of work.
GAME ONE RECAP
A five-run fourth inning was all Kennesaw State needed to power itself past the Lady Bucs, as the Owls took game one, 8-1.
The Owls recorded 12 hits in the opener and Jessica Cross limited ETSU to three hits in seven innings of action.
After holding Kennesaw scoreless for the first two innings, the Owls began the third with three consecutive singles to load the bases. With no room for error, senior Darci Gilbert struck out Ashlee Burkett for the first out of the inning. Unfortunately, after the punch out, Gilbert threw a wild pitch - leading to the first score of the contest. Gilbert did bounce back by stabbing a liner off the bat of Sharon Swanson and fanned Jenna Closner to keep two runners stranded.
Once again the Owls loaded the bags in the fourth and scored five runs on four hits to take a 6-0 lead.
Kennesaw State plated two more runs in the sixth to make it 8-0, and ETSU pushed its lone run across in the bottom half of the inning when Lucy Schneider scored after Trisha Massenzo got tagged out in a rundown between first and second.
Gilbert suffered the loss (4-7) after allowing four runs on six hits in 3.0 innings of work.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Wednesday when ETSU faces UNC Central in Durham. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 5 p.m.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.