LYNCHBURG, Va. (March 6, 2012) – Despite slugging four home runs, including a pair by sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) and a grand slam from Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.), the ETSU softball team couldn’t come away with a sweep over Liberty on Tuesday at Liberty Softball Field.
In game one, Horner belted two home runs and senior catcher Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.) drove in the game-winning run in the sixth, as ETSU survived a 10-7 see-saw affair over the Flames.
However, the Blue and Gold couldn’t hold onto a 10-run lead in the nightcap, as Liberty used a 10-run fourth to tie it 12, while pinch hitter Hannah Nichols’ sac-fly RBI in the sixth plated the game-winning run to cap off the Flames’ rally, 14-13.
With the split, the Bucs saw their record move to 5-12, while Liberty pushed its mark to 6-4.
Horner – who went 5-for-5 with a double, two home runs, three walks, five RBI and four runs scored in the two games – became the 12th player in ETSU history to record two home runs in a single game since teammate Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) accomplished the feat last season against North Carolina A&T on March 13.
Game One Recap
Casey Horner belted a pair of home runs and Marlina Delisa drove in the game-winning run with a RBI single in the sixth as ETSU survived a see-saw affair by defeating Liberty, 10-7.
Horner moved her team-leading home run total to five on the season as she connected on a three-run homer in the first and sent one flying over the scoreboard in the fourth. The Whitesburg, Tenn. native reached base all four times after earning a walk and being hit by a pitch in her other two at-bats.
In total, seven different Buccaneer players recoded a hit in the game, while Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.), Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.), and Horner each scored two runs.
The game, which had three lead changes, saw the Bucs jump out to the early 3-0 lead courtesy of Horner’s three-run homer in the top of the first. Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) led off the game with a triple down the line in right, but she was tagged out at the plate after Thompson grounded one back to the circle. However, the Blue and Gold made up for the blunder as Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) returned to the line-up and was hit by a pitch, leading to Horner’s blast to left-center.
Liberty capitalized on a leadoff walk by Sammi Shivock in the bottom half of the inning as she later scored on Martin’s two-out fielding error in left, making it a 3-1 game. After Shivock walked, she moved to second on Katie Zavodny’s sacrifice bunt and advanced to third via a stolen base following a two-out walk to Amber Donovan. Then, with runners on the corners, Kelly Strickland hit a liner to left, but Martin had the ball pop out of her glove, which brought home Shivock from third. Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) bounced back by leaving a pair of runners stranded as she struck out Kelby Allen looking to end the inning.
Following the Horner blast, Alyssa DiMartino retired eight straight Buccaneer hitters and Liberty’s offense struck for three runs on three hits in the bottom of the third to take a 4-3 lead. Shivock pulled the Flames one run closer after leading off the inning with a homer to left-center, while it was Allen’s two-out triple to right that plated a pair of runs, giving Liberty a one-run advantage.
ETSU quickly recaptured the lead by scoring three runs on one hit in the fourth to jump back ahead, 6-4. Horner ended the streak of eight consecutive ETSU hitters being retired as she led off the inning with her second round-tripper of the game by sending a 1-0 pitch over the scoreboard in center to pull the Bucs even at four. From there, freshman outfielder Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) worked a walk, while Campbell reached via an error by Shivock at short. After DiMartino was charged with her second illegal pitch of the game, both runners advanced a base, and Everett and Campbell later scored on RBI ground outs.
The Blue and Gold tacked on another run in the fifth when Everett’s two-out single to left brought in Thompson from second, putting ETSU up 7-4.
Once again the see-saw game continued as Liberty pulled even at seven by scoring three fifth-inning runs. Meredith Crisante led off the inning with a double to the gap in left-center and scored on Amber Donovan’s RBI single, forcing the Bucs to make a pitching change. Wolff’s day in the circle came to an end as freshman righty Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) entered in relief. Leon walked the first batter she faced and loaded the bases after issuing a single to Allen. With the bases loaded and no outs, Leon hit Jenny Law to pull Liberty within a run, while pinch hitter Grace Nordan’s sac-fly RBI to right-center tied it seven as Strickland snuck under the tag on Everett’s throw to the plate.
The game had its third lead change in the top sixth when Delisa’s RBI single to center scored Campbell – who led off the inning with a single to left – while Delisa moved to second when Zavodny booted the ball in center. Following Delisa’s single, Liberty made a pitching change as Chandler Ball entered for DiMartino. ETSU extended its lead to 9-7 when Wolff greeted Ball with a single up the middle, which plated pinch runner Sade Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga.) from second. After Wolff moved up to second on the throw, freshman Lily Robins (Collierville, Tenn.) came in to run, while pinch hitter Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) worked a walked, placing runners on first and second with no outs for the Blue and Gold. Robins later scored on Thompson’s two-out RBI single through the right side, giving ETSU its third three-run lead of the game, 10-7.
Fortunately, that was the final lead change of the game, as Leon held Liberty scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings to pick up the win.
Leon improved to 2-1 on the year after allowing one run on three hits in three innings of relief, while DiMartino suffered the loss (2-2) as she was tagged for nine runs (seven earned) on six hits in five innings of work.
Game Two Recap
After holding a 10-run lead through three innings of play, ETSU couldn’t hold on as Liberty scored 10 runs in the fourth and pushed runs across the dish in the fifth and sixth innings to pull off the stunning comeback, 14-13.
The Bucs – who scored a season-high in runs and posted 16 hits – were led by Annie Martin, Casey Horner, and Tara Hartnett, while Alex Everett registered her first collegiate grand slam. Martin, Horner, and Hartnett each had three hits, while Jackie Baird drove in two runs on two hits and also scored twice.
However, even with an offensive onslaught, the Buccaneer pitchers couldn’t work around the comfortable cushion as Liberty pelted 18 hits, with 11 of those coming in the fourth inning alone.
Despite being struck for 10 runs (nine earned) in 3.1 innings of work, senior Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) wasn’t dealt the loss. Unfortunately, Katie Wolff received the losing decision (3-4) after coming in and giving up four runs (three earned) in 2.2 innings of relief. After suffering the loss in game one, Alyssa DiMartino earned the win in game two as she issued six runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings.
Just like in game one, ETSU struck first when Martin led off with a single and moved to third on Haley Thompson’s double to right. Following a pop out and an intentional walk to Horner, Martin scored the first run of the game via a wild pitch. Despite having runners on second and third with only one out, the Blue and Gold couldn’t do more damage as Everett popped up to second and Chandler Ball forced Amy Campbell to hit into an inning-ending grounder to short.
Liberty threatened in the bottom half of the inning when they put runners on first and second with one out, but Morris struck out Amber Donovan and forced Kelly Strickland to fly out to left.
The Bucs took advantage of some control issues by Liberty’s pitchers in the second to extend their lead to 7-0. Sam Lower reached on a two-out wild pitch strikeout, which also plated Tara Harnett from third to put ETSU ahead, 2-0. The Blue and Gold weren’t done scoring, as yet again, ETSU scored its third run on another wild pitch – and after Horner worked a walk to load the bases – Everett flexed her muscles by smashing her first collegiate grand slam over the fence in left to give Morris a seven-run cushion to work with.
As the Bucs would come to find out later in the game those runs weren’t enough for the Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native to seal up her first win in 2012.
The Flames answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second to make it a 7-2 contest. Liberty put its first three hitters on, but Morris looked like she was going to work out of the jam after striking out Bridgett Woods and forcing Sammi Shivock to foul out. Unfortunately, Katie Zavodny beat out an infield single to score Kelby Allen from third, while Jenny Law scored on a throwing error by Thompson at second, cutting the Flames’ deficit to five.
In the third, ETSU picked up an RBI single by Martin, while Thompson drove in her fifth run of the game with an RBI ground out to make it 9-2 in favor of the Bucs. Martin robbed the Flames of a run in the bottom half of the inning when Allen sent one to warning track in center, but Martin pulled in the catch at the fence for the final out of the inning.
The Bucs continued their streak of scoring in each inning in the fourth, when Campbell posted an RBI single and Baird cracked a two-out, two-run home run to see ETSU’s lead soar to 10, 12-2.
From there the fun was over for ETSU and the Flames started their stunning comeback.
Liberty provided a big punch in the bottom half of the fourth as the Flames tied it at 12 after scoring 10 runs on 11 hits. The Flames received RBI singles by Woods and Shivock, while Donovan drove in two with a rocket single to short. Strickland scored a run with a RBI single up the middle and Allen pulled the Flames within two runs when her three-run home run hit off the scoreboard, making it a 12-10 game. After scoring a run earlier in the inning, Shivock plated the game-tying runs with a single to center, but she was called out after trying to advance to second on the play.
Despite seeing its 10-run lead erased, ETSU didn’t back down and capitalized on more Liberty pitching miscues in the fifth. After Martin reached on an infield single, she came around to score the go-ahead run when the Flames failed to execute an intentional walk to Horner. Liberty’s dugout was calling for the free pass, but DiMartino put one across the plate and Horner doubled to left-center, making it a 13-12 game.
With both offensives surging the one run wasn’t going to hold as the Flames tied it at 13 when Campbell was charged with a fielding error at short, leading to Zavodny scoring the tying run from third.
After the Blue and Gold had their streak of scoring at least one run in an inning come to a halt in the sixth, Liberty grabbed its first lead of the game and didn’t relinquish it when pinch hitter Hannah Nichols’ sac-fly RBI to left plated Woods, putting the Flames up, 14-13.
In the seventh, the Bucs loaded the bases with two outs, but Everett grounded out to second to end the game.
Three Liberty players recorded three-hit games, while Shivock and Allen each drove in three runs apiece.
ETSU returns to action on Friday afternoon when the Bucs take on Central Michigan at 2 p.m. in the USF Under Armour Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. ETSU also takes on Canisius at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.