KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (March 30, 2007) - The ETSU softball team met its most difficult match of the season as they were swept by the No. 1-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols 13-3 and 8-0 on Friday evening at Tyson Park.
The Bucs drop to 16-18 overall on the season, and remain winless in 10 tries against Tennessee, while the Lady Vols have now won 14 straight games and improve to 39-2 overall in 2007.
Freshman Katy Jett (Talbot, Tenn.) drove in all three runs for ETSU as she took one of the top pitchers in the country, senior Monica Abbott, deep twice in game one. Jett became the first player to hit two or more homers off Abbott since April 30, 2006, when Georgia's Ashley Godfrey took her yard twice. The freshman slugger leads the team with five home runs, and joined Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) as the only two Buc players to post a multi-homer game this season.
Jett got the Bucs going in the first as she belted one down the left field line, putting ETSU up 1-0. The ETSU lead did not last long as freshman Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) walked Tonya Callahan to leadoff the second and the run eventually came across to score on Erinn Webb's two out single up the middle. Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) entered in relief to begin the third, but another leadoff walk haunted the Bucs for the second consecutive inning as Vercoe walked Kenora Posey. Posey then stole second, advanced to third when Tiffany Huff flied out to center, and scored on Callahan's RBI single.
After limiting the Lady Vols to only two runs on four hits through the first three innings, the Tennessee bats came alive in the fourth. ETSU's pitching allowed 11 runs on seven hits as the top-ranked Lady Vols came to the plate 16 times in the inning. Jett released some anger in the fifth by smashing her second home run of the game, but that would be the only offensive output the Bucs would receive and the game ended due to the mercy rule.
Hardy made her first collegiate start, but suffered the loss despite allowing only one run on three hits in 2.1 innings, while Abbott won her 11th straight game and improved to 30-1.
Tennessee's Megan Rhodes limited the Bucs to one hit and struck out 10 as the Lady Vols blanked the Bucs, 8-0, in the nightcap. After Jett recorded the lone Buccaneer hit in the first, the Tennessee hurler ended the game by retiring 14 of the final 15 ETSU batters she faced.
Looking to save her top two pitchers for a critical A-Sun battle against Stetson on Sunday, head coach Andrea Mangrum gave the ball to Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) to start game two; however, she only lasted 1.1 innings after allowing six runs on six hits. For the second time on Friday, Vercoe entered in relief and worked 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits.
Haverman began the game by forcing Tennessee's leadoff hitter to ground out to short; however, the Lady Vols then recorded three straight hits and took an early 2-0 lead after the first inning. Things did not get any easier for Haverman in the second as she walked two of the first three batters she faced, and then surrendered a single and back-to-back doubles, leading to three more runs for the Lady Vols. Vercoe entered the game for ETSU and allowed two more singles, which gave Tennessee a 6-0 lead after two. The Lady Vols scored two more runs in the fourth, and held the Bucs scoreless in the fifth to end the game.
The Bucs will look to hold onto their share for first place in the A-Sun standings as they head to DeLand, Fla. and face Stetson on Sunday. First pitch is slated for noon at Patricia Wilson Field.