JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 11, 2011) - Freshman right-hander Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) tossed a one-hit shutout and the ETSU softball team capped off a sweep on the opening day of the Buccaneer Challenge by blanking South Carolina State, 5-0, Friday night inside Betty Basler Field. In game one, the Bucs scored six runs in the second and pushed three more across the plate in the fourth en route to cruising to a 9-1 five-inning victory over North Carolina A&T.
Wolff - who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Bulldogs - surrendered a leadoff single to Taylor-Anne Harris; however, the rookie wasn't fazed by losing the no-no as she retired the next three hitters to earn her first collegiate win. The LaGrange, Texas native struck out three South Carolina State hitters, walked none, and hit one batter.
For the day, the Bucs' pitching staff and hitters enjoyed a solid afternoon. Game one winner Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) allowed one run in five innings and the Blue and Gold hurlers held the opposition to a .056 batting average (2-36). Meanwhile, at the dish, freshman Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) hit a blistering .833 (5-6) in the pair of games. Baird also belted two doubles, scored three runs and drove in four. Sophomore Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) extended her hitting streak to six straight games after going 3-for-5 (.600) with two runs scored on Friday. Overall, the Bucs outscored their foes 14-1, while eight of ETSU's 19 hits went for extra bases.
With the sweep, the Bucs moved their record to 6-12 on the year, while opening their home slate with a perfect 2-0 mark.
North Carolina A&T Recap
Sophomore Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI and senior right-hander Jessica Duncan struck out six in five innings of work as the Buccaneer softball team dominated North Carolina A&T, 9-1, in the first game of the Buccaneer Challenge.
Duncan saw her record improve to 3-5 after allowing one run on only one hit in the game-shortened affair. Joining Hartnett at the plate was Jackie Baird's two-hit and two-RBI effort.
The Aggies threatened in the top of the first as Duncan walked the first two hitters she faced, but came back and struck out the next two batters. Then, after the senior righty loaded the bases by hitting Juanita Jernigan, she forced Dominique Smith to tap into an inning-ending grounder to second - keeping three North Carolina A&T runners stranded.
ETSU's offense came to life in the second as the Bucs scored six runs on four hits to take a commanding 6-0 lead. Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) kicked off the scoring with a RBI double to left, and she came in to score when Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) reached on an error at short. Following the Aggie miscue, the Bucs' bats caught fire as Hartnett plated two more runs with a double to left and Baird capped off the scoring spree with a RBI single - giving the Blue and Gold the six-run cushion.
In the top of the third, Hope Fletcher put the Aggies on the board after she led off the frame with a triple to right-center and trotted home on an illegal pitch by Duncan. However, ETSU flashed some leather two get two quick outs by turning a 5-4-3 double play, while Duncan forced Sabrina Edmonds to make the third out by grounding out to second.
The Bucs got the run back - and then some - in the fourth to extend their lead to 9-1. Hartnett led off the inning by smashing her second double of the afternoon and scored on Baird's RBI single to right. ETSU recorded its eighth run when Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) scored from third on a catcher's interference call, and Campbell's RBI ground out put the Bucs up by eight runs after Baird charged home on the play.
From there, Duncan retired six of final seven hitters she faced to lead her Bucs to the victory. Fletcher was dealt the loss after being tagged for five runs on five hits in two innings of work.
With the loss, North Carolina A&T saw its record dip to 3-7.
South Carolina State Recap
Katie Wolff earned her first collegiate victory as she nearly tossed a no-hitter in the Bucs' 5-0 victory over South Carolina State Friday evening at Betty Basler Field.
Wolff retired 21 of the 23 batters she faced, while Katie Henderson and Jackie Baird combined to go 5-for-6 with three doubles, two RBI and four runs scored.
The game was a classic pitchers' duel through the first three innings, but after Wolff kept the Bulldogs off the board early and often, the Bucs finally cracked the scoreboard by registering two runs in the bottom of the fourth. The bats of Henderson, Baird and Amy Campbell came alive as they roughed up Raven Johnson for three consecutive doubles to take the two-run lead.
With Wolff dealing in the circle, the pair of runs was more than enough offense for freshman standout, but just in case the Blue and Gold attacked again - scoring three runs in the sixth to push their lead to 5-0. Once again it was Henderson and Baird that provided the spark as Henderson led off the frame with a single up the middle and scored on Baird's second double of the game on the next play. Sam Lower brought in Baird with her RBI single to left and Wolff helped her cause by plating Lower with her RBI rocket to center.
As the game moved late into the evening, Wolff's no-hit bid started to register on the radar - especially after working perfect fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Unfortunately, Harris spoiled the party with a leadoff single in the seventh, but Wolff was still in the zone as she recorded three straight outs to earn the win - giving the Bucs a sweep on day one of their tournament.
Johnson suffered the loss after allowing five runs on ten hits in six innings of work. The Bulldogs have now dropped 22 straight to start the year following the setback.
The Bucs look to keep their winning streak intact Saturday afternoon when ETSU hosts Pittsburgh (2 p.m.) and St. Bonaventure (4:15 p.m.) on day two of the Buccaneer Challenge. North Carolina A&T and Pittsburgh begin the second day of the tournament at 9:30 a.m. from Betty Basler Field.
Click here a full recap of day one scores.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.