Bucs turn things around at Rebel Games; win five of six
Monday, March 12, 2007

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Mar. 8-10, 2007) - After dropping 10 of its first 14 games the ETSU softball team turned things around by winning five of its six games over the weekend at the Rebel Games. The Bucs combined for 40 runs, and posted two shutouts in their three-day trip to Kissimmee, Florida.


            ETSU kicked things off with a sweep on Thursday as they defeated St. Peter's 5-2, and then downed Holy Cross 9-3 in the nightcap. Things looked shaky when Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) allowed a first inning run to Peahens, but the Bucs got all the offense they needed, scoring four of their five runs off St. Peters' Amber Phillips in the in the bottom half of the inning. Gilbert cruised through the next five frames, allowing only one hit while striking out five. The freshman hurler had a dicey seventh as she put runners on first and second with only one out. However, she battled back by surrendering only one run, and earned her third win of the season. Gilbert allowed two runs on five hits and struck out six as she went the distance in game one.


            The Bucs offense turned things up in the second game on Thursday against Holy Cross. Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) helped herself out before she even took the mound as she belted her first home run on the season, giving ETSU an early 2-0 advantage. The Crusaders tied the game at two by scoring a run in the second and third; however, the lead did not last long as Caitlin Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) led off the fourth with a solo home run, putting ETSU back up, 3-2. The home run was the sophomore's first of her collegiate career. The Bucs pushed another run across the plate when Stephanie Gaynord's (Manassas, Va.) double scored Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.), which ended up being the game-winning run. Holy Cross cut the lead to 4-3 with a run in the fifth, but ETSU blew the game wide open with four sixth inning runs. The Bucs tallied a season-high 14 hits, while Vercoe went 3-for-4 with three RBI en route to her third win of the year.


            The high powered offense and winning ways continued for ETSU as they combined to score 21 runs on 22 hits in wins over Lehigh and Sacred Heart on Friday. The Bucs scored all 10 of their runs in the first three frames and hung on to a 10-8 victory over Lehigh in game one. Gaynord started the inning with a single and eventually scored on Jessie Hackworth's (Clinton, Tenn.) single two plays later. With the bases loaded, junior Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) reached on an error by Lehigh's right fielder, scoring three more ETSU runs. The Bucs scored one run in the second and did the rest of the damage an inning later as they put four more runs on the board. Briana Knight's (Brier, Wash.) two-out single scored the first run, and Gaynord's triple on the next play pushed the final three runs across the plate for ETSU. The Mountain Hawks made things interesting in the seventh as they scored three runs, making it 10-8, but Gilbert worked out of a bases loaded jam by getting Lehigh's final batter out on strikes.


            ETSU and Sacred Heart looked to have a pitchers duel on its hands in the nightcap on Friday. However, ETSU's bats finally came alive in the fourth when the Bucs batted through the line up, and scored nine runs on eight hits. Three of the Bucs' eight hits went for extra-bases, while Gaynord and Haverman drove in six of the eight ETSU runs. The Bucs pushed two more runs across the plate against Sacred Heart's pitching in the fifth, pushing ETSU's lead to 11-0. Vercoe was untouchable as she allowed only one hit through the five innings, and picked up her second consecutive win.


            Sacred Heart handed the Bucs their first defeat of the weekend on Saturday, 2-1. The Pioneers took advantage of Darci Gilbert's two-out walk in the first when Caitlin Carroll's double scored the first run of the game. ETSU tied it at one in the fourth when a Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) two-out single scored Vercoe; however, Sacred Heart's Megan Spehar shut the Bucs down from there and they were able to get to Gilbert one final time by scoring the game-winning run in the top of the seventh.


              The Bucs quickly bounced back in the final game of the trip as Vercoe earned her third straight win and second consecutive shutout by blanking Farleigh Dickinson, 4-0. ETSU pushed its first run across the board without receiving a single hit. Senior Stephanie Gaynord reached second to leadoff the game thanks to an error by FDU's third baseman, and she scored the eventual winning run two plays later when Hackworth grounded out to short. The Bucs scored two more runs in the third and another in the sixth. Vercoe limited the Knights' offense to only two hits in six innings of work, as even her record to 5-5 on the season.


            After beginning the season with 20 straight road games, ETSU will finally play its season opener on Tuesday afternoon when they host Valparaiso in a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Metro-Kiwanis Park.