TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2007) - The 2007 Wilson Invitational has not been kind to the ETSU softball team as they lost four of its first five games on the weekend. The Bucs lost 4-3 to Wichita State in their first game of the day on Sunday, and then dropped a 10-2 decision to host and No. 24-ranked South Florida in game two at USF Softball Stadium.
For the second consecutive day the Bucs were held hitless as they fell victim to South Florida's Kristen Gordon and Bree Spence. Despite allowing two runs, the pitchers combined for a no-hitter, and the Bulls scored seven runs in the sixth inning to give them the victory. ETSU dropped to 2-4, while the nationally ranked Bulls improved to 6-5.
USF struck first when Courtney Mosch's double off freshman Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) drove in two runs in the bottom of the first. Gilbert got out of a jam in the first as she left runners on the corners by getting Carly Griffin to ground out to Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) to end the inning.
The Bucs kept it close as Gilbert held the Bulls scoreless during the next three innings, and ETSU pushed its first run across the plate without receiving a hit. Senior Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) reached base by a hit-by-pitch and moved to second when Katy Jett (Talbot, Tenn.) drew a walk. With runners on first and second and nobody out, freshman Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position. Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) drove in the first run for the Bucs as she lined out to center, scoring Gaynord. Jett was able advance to third on a wild pitch, but she was left stranded when Vercoe struck out to end the inning.
After the Bulls made it a 3-1 game in the fifth, ETSU answered with a run of its own in the sixth when Gaynord reached on a fielder's choice and eventually scored on back-to-back throwing errors by USF. However, the host team had an offensive explosion in the bottom half of the frame, thanks to a three-run home run by Laura Wolf. The next four USF runs all crossed the plate with two outs on the board as the Bulls converted on ETSU fielding mistakes and pitching errors to cap off the seven run sixth.
Gilbert dropped her second straight decision, going 5.2 IP and allowing 10 runs (six earned) on 10 hits. Gordon picked up her first collegiate win and was charged for both runs (one earned), while the USF pitchers combined for eight strikeouts.
In game one, the Bucs faced yet another heartbreaking loss in the final inning as they lost to Wichita State, 4-3. ETSU (2-3) only needed one hit to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Katy Jett jacked her first career home over the left field wall run off the Shockers Britnee Barnett.
After cruising through the bottom of the first, Mary Catherine Vercoe faced some problems in the second. The sophomore hurler gave up a leadoff single to Wichita State's Stephanie DeLaRiva, and she eventually crossed the plate when teammate Kara L'Huillier singled. After Vercoe got Lindsie Mitts out on strikes, the Shockers Lisa Jones came through as she doubled to right center, scoring L'Huillier to take a 2-1 lead.
Vercoe kept her team in the game by keeping Wichita State (3-6) hitless during the next three innings. In the sixth, ETSU took advantage of Trisha Massenzo's two-out walk, when Amanda Haverman's (Kirkwood, Mo.) double scored the freshman, tying the game at two. Stephanie Cope (Maryville, Tenn.) came in to run for Haverman and Vercoe tried to help her cause as she singled to right, but Cope was gunned down by the Shockers right fielder when she tried to score from second. Not getting the go-ahead run across proved to be costly for the Bucs as Wichita State drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning and the base runner scored on a throwing error by freshman Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.), taking a 3-2 advantage.
With the Shockers leading 3-2 heading into the top of the seventh, junior Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) led off the inning with a double to left. Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) advanced Knight over to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Knight tied the game at three on the next play, when the Shockers first baseman was charged with a throwing error. However, the team from Wichita, Kan., took advantage of its last at bat as Vercoe had trouble in the bottom half of the inning. Vercoe loaded the bases by allowing two singles and hit a batter. With no outs, the Bucs pitcher walked in the winning run, sending ETSU to its third consecutive loss in the tournament.
The Bucs will wrap up play at the Wilson Invitational on Monday when they take on Florida A&M at 11:30 a.m. at USF Softball Stadium.