JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 2, 2011) - After falling to North Florida in game one (7-1), the ETSU softball team was in line to earn a split over the Ospreys as the Bucs were one out away from a one-run victory Saturday afternoon at Betty Basler Field. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off in the circle as the Buccaneer pitching staff allowing four unanswered runs without allowing a hit en route to North Florida rallying for a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
The Ospreys scored three runs in the first and second innings of the opener, while Sam Lower's (Sebring, Fla.) solo homer in the fourth snapped a scoreless drought; however, UNF's Cortney Radke kept the Buccaneer offense off-balance as she retired nine of the final ten batters she faced to earn the win. Lower also provided the offensive punch in game two when her single through the right side scored two first-inning runs, but that was all the offense ETSU generated, as UNF capitalized on five walks and two hit batters in the top of the seventh inning - wiping away a winning decision for junior righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.).
The Bucs have now lost four straight conference games and ETSU saw its record slip to 13-21, 2-6. North Florida improved to 19-20, 3-5 with the sweep.
Game One Recap
North Florida plated three runs in the first and three more in the second, while Cortney Radke limited the Bucs to one run on four hits as the Ospreys cruised to a 7-1 victory in the opener.
Radke, North Florida's number one hurler, improved to 16-12 on the season after striking out eight Buccaneer batters. Senior righty Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) didn't feature the same result as she could only muster one out before being pulled in the first inning. In total, Duncan allowed three runs on two hits and issued three walks in one-third of an inning to see her record dip to 6-9.
The Ospreys jumped out of the gates early by scoring three runs on two hits in the top of the first to hold a three-run advantage before the Bucs could get ahold of a bat. Duncan just wasn't herself in the circle as she only picked up the one out and was charged for all three runs. Fortunately freshman Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) entered in relief and kept the bases loaded by getting out of the jam. Wolff induced Danica Mandarano to tap into a fielder's choice and got Brittany Hendrix to pop out to second for the final out of the frame.
However, UNF struck again in the second as Mariah Reynolds took full use of the 20-plus mile per hour wind gusts to left by smashing a three-run homer, giving the Ospreys at 6-0 lead.
The Bucs put two runners on in the second as Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) got plunked for the third time this season and Wolff worked a walk; however, Radke came back to strike out Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.) and forced Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) to foul out to the catcher to end the inning.
Once again UNF kept adding to its lead when Reynolds drove in her fourth run of the game with a two-out RBI double in the fourth, making it a 7-0 contest.
The Blue and Gold finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning when Lower put one up in the jet stream and saw the ball carry over the fence in left - making it a 7-1 game. In return, Radke cooled off the Buccaneer attack after the solo shot as she retired nine of the final ten ETSU batters to earn the win.
Game Two Recap
After pitching a gem of a game for the first six innings, Shelby Morris hit a wall in the seventh as she was charged for three of the four runs to cross the plate in the final frame en route to North Florida capturing the 5-2 come-from-behind victory.
Morris - who held the Ospreys to one unearned run on three hits in the first six innings - was dealt the loss (6-7) after finishing the game with four runs (three earned) along with five walks and one hit batter. Radke again earned the win (17-12) after tossing six innings of two-hit ball in relief.
In the top of the first, the Ospreys took advantage of an error by Tara Harnett in left as leadoff hitter Kaley Brosky reached base after the miscue on the pop fly in the outfield. Brosky advanced all the way to third on the play and eventually scored on Jackie Reese's sac fly to left, giving UNF the 1-0 lead. From there, Morris worked out of a bases loaded jam when Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) snagged a liner off the bat of Chie Someya at third for the final out of the inning.
The Bucs responded by scoring two runs on four consecutive singles to take a 2-1 lead after Sam Lower drove home Hartnett and Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) with a single through the right side in the bottom half of the inning.
After ETSU chased Chie Someya from the circle in the second when Marlina Delisa led off the inning with a double to left-center, game one winner Cortney Radke entered in relief to work out of a jam.
Radke once again kept the Blue and Gold hitters in check for the remainder of the game, as she only allowed two Buccaneer batters to reach base from that point forward.
The lack of run support came back to haunt the Bucs with UNF posting the four-run seventh to take the 5-2 lead. Things looked bright for ETSU in the inning as Morris was one out away from the complete game win; however, with runners on first and second the Ospreys moved up a base on Morris' wild pitch. Again, a second wild pitch by Morris resulted in the game-tying run to come across the plate - and from there - the flood gates opened as UNF scored three more runs on three consecutive bases loaded walks. Katie Wolff, the third pitcher used in the inning, finally got the Bucs out of the mess by getting Alyson Bailey to hit into an inning-ending grounder to short. Radke then sent the Bucs down in order to earn the sweep.
ETSU returns to action on Tuesday afternoon when the Bucs host Tennessee Tech to wrap up the long homestand. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 4 p.m. at Betty Basler Field.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.