ETSU drops a pair on day two of Under Armour Invitational
CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 5, 2011) - The ETSU softball team went toe-to-toe with SEC contender Arkansas, but despite a solid outing by senior righty Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.), the Bucs' upset bid fell short as the Razorbacks hung on for a 4-2 win Saturday afternoon in the Under Armour Invitational. Following the heartbreaking loss to Arkansas, the Blue and Gold ran out of steam against host South Florida as the Bulls pulled out a 9-1 six-inning victory in the nightcap.
ETSU (4-11) was led by sophomore infielder Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) on Saturday as she hit .600 with a home run, run scored and two RBI; while Duncan allowed only one earned run and struck out five Arkansas hitters in seven innings of work.
After putting runners on in the first two innings but not being able to push any runs across the plate, the Bucs finally came through in the third when Katie Henderson's (Jackson, Tenn.) two-out RBI single to center scored freshman Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) - putting the Blue and Gold up 1-0.
Unfortunately, the ETSU lead didn't last long, as the Razorbacks scored three runs in the fourth to hold a 3-1 advantage. Arkansas' Becca Carden reached on an error at short to lead off the inning and she advanced to second following Courtney Breault's soft roller to second. From there, both runners were put into scoring position after Stephanie Brewer laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Duncan looked like she would get out of the jam after striking out Layne McGuirt for the second out of the frame. However, after a walk to Jessica Robison loaded the bases with two outs, Amanda Caldwell cleared the bases by placing a ball just out of the reach from a diving Nicole Fox in center - giving Arkansas the two-run lead. Fox made a valiant effort on the play, but came inches of corralling the ball to end the inning and keeping the Razorbacks off the board.
However, the Bucs continued to battle after the Razorbacks took the lead in the fourth.
In the bottom half of the inning, Lower pulled the Blue and Gold within a run of Arkansas as she led off the frame with a home run to left. Then, as the Bucs thought they may have Hope McLemore on the ropes, she ended up shutting the door on the ETSU offensive attack.
McLemore retired 12 of the last 13 ETSU hitters she faced, while an RBI single in the top of the seventh gave Arkansas the two-run victory, 4-2.
Despite being tagged for only one earned run, Duncan saw her record drop to 2-4, while McLemore improved to 3-4 after allowing two runs (one earned). McLemore also struck out nine and walked none in the complete game effort.
Arkansas improved to 7-10 with the win.
South Florida scored three runs through the first three innings and that was all the offense the Bulls needed as they went on to defeat the Bucs, 9-1, in six innings Saturday afternoon at the USF Under Armour Invitational.
ETSU was led by Katie Henderson and Sam Lower at the plate. Henderson went 1-for-2 with a double and run scored, while sophomore Sam Lower recorded an RBI single.
Meanwhile, the Bulls received a strong pitching effort from Brittany Bowles and a key home run by Kourtney Salvarola en route to capturing the eight-run win. Bowles allowed one run on three hits and struck out three, while Salvarola ended the game with a three-run homer in the sixth.
Bowles was untouchable early and often as she retired 10 of the first 11 Buccaneer hitters she faced, and the USF hitters gave the junior right-hander some room to work with after jumping out to a three-run lead after the first three innings.
ETSU finally cracked the scoreboard in the fourth when Henderson doubled down the line in left and came around to score on Lower's two-out RBI single up the middle, making it a 3-1 ballgame.
However, Bowles again became untouchable after Lower's RBI single as she retired the final seven hitters she faced, and USF's offense came to life in the fourth and sixth innings. The Bulls responded by scoring three runs in the fourth and Salvarola ended the game with her three-run home run in the sixth to pick up Bowles' second win of the year.
Junior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) was dealt the loss (2-3) despite allowing only one hit in three innings of work. Control issues were the Achilles heel for Morris though, as she walked five USF hitters and hit one.
The Bucs close out the tournament Sunday afternoon when ETSU takes on Ball State. First pitch is set for noon in Clearwater.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.