Fox’s hitting streak ends at 13, Cowart finishes weekend 4-for-6
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 17, 2013) – A first-inning solo home run put Jacksonville ahead from the start and the ETSU softball team was never able to level the score as the Dolphins completed a three-game series sweep, 3-2, on Sunday from Betty Basler Field.
Victoria Brown flied out to left on the game’s first pitch and Codi Kelly homered on the second to give Jacksonville (19-8, 5-1 A-Sun) a lead it never relinquished. Karson Tuck hit a second JU solo homer in the fourth, but ETSU (7-15, 0-6 A-Sun) did not go down quietly. An error pushed ETSU’s first run across in the fifth and freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) cracked an RBI double to left-center in the sixth to pull the score within one.
Ultimately, a total of 10 Buccaneers left on base proved costly, including two in each of the last three innings. The Buccaneers were unable to capitalize with one out and runners on second and third in the sixth following Cowart’s double and a seventh inning, two-out rally was extinguished with the tying run on second and the winning run on first.
“We had hits, got runners on and even had a shot to win it at the end. You can’t ask for anything more than that,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “Katie [Wolff] threw well enough for us to win, but we just came out on the wrong side of it.”
Junior starting pitcher Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) pitched her third consecutive complete game, allowing the three JU runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out a pair. Though she falls to 2-8 on the year, Wolff holds a team-best 2.61 ERA. In Wolff’s last five starts, ETSU has scored a total of just six runs – 1.2 runs per game.
“Katie has been going the distance for us and even cut back on her walks today, which is something she has been working on,” Irwin added. “We played defense behind her but just need to start getting some run production to take advantage of her quality starts.”
Cowart’s RBI double came in the aftermath of a Saturday in which she got both her first collegiate hit and home run. The freshman was 2-for-2 on Sunday and finished the weekend 4-for-6 with a double, home run, two runs and two RBIs.
“Bethany came through big this weekend,” Irwin said. “She proved she deserves more opportunities at the plate and even played first base for us today with Casey hurt. I’m really proud of what she did and she’s earned a chance to play.”
Cowart did not get a chance to bring ETSU all the way back in the seventh. After the first two Buccaneers went down, Wolff singled to center and junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) worked a walk to put the tying and winning runs on base. Senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) made solid contact on a liner to center, but it was hit right at Sable Lee who squeezed the JU sweep.
Jacksonville starter Cecile Gomez (7-0) earned her second win in as many days, lasting 5.1 innings, allowing six hits, two runs, one earned, while walking and striking out three. She was relieved by Brown following Cowart’s double, who prevented any further damage the rest of the way to earn her first save of the season.
The Bucs totaled seven hits in the ball game, but redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) was held without one for the first time in over a month, ending her 13-game hitting streak. The streak stands alone as the second-longest in ETSU history, one shy of the 14 Stephanie Gaynord strung together from 2006-07.
The Buccaneers will look to put an end to their nine-game losing streak on Wednesday, traveling to Cullowhee, N.C., for a midweek, non-conference doubleheader against Western Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Coach Irwin looks forward to getting his Bucs some added game action and practice to improve on the six-game skid to start the conference season.
“We get three non-conferences games during the week to work on what we need to work on. It’s very evident what that is. The conference season still has a long way to go. We’ve had a chance to win in three of these six losses and if we focus and work hard I have no doubt that we can turn this around.
“I told the team that we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Nobody else is going to feel sorry for us and we’ve still got 21 conference games to go.”
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