TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2007) - The ETSU softball team lost a heartbreaker in its opening game of the Wilson Invitational on Saturday afternoon as they surrendered three ninth innings runs to the 15th ranked Washington Huskies and fell 5-2 at USF Softball Field. The University of South Florida is hosting the three-day tournament.
This marks the first loss of the season for the Bucs, dropping them to 2-1 on the early season, while Washington improved to 4-1. Sophomore Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) lost her first decision of the season (1-1), and the Huskies Danielle Lawrie earned her third straight win by pitching two perfect innings in relief.
After Vercoe put away the Huskies in order in the top half of the first, ETSU put the first run across the board in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) started things off with a single and eventually scored when freshman Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) singled to left. Washington's Caitlin Noble settled down after that by getting the next two Buccaneer hitters out to end the inning.
The lead would not last long for ETSU as the Huskies tied the game at one in the top of the second. Ashlyn Watson led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt then moved up to third on a Gaynord throwing error. With two outs, Vercoe could not overcome the leadoff walk as she allowed a single to left, scoring Watson.
After getting out of a bases loaded jam in the third, Vercoe was in trouble again as she gave up yet another walk to begin the fourth. Washington took advantage of the mistake for the second time in the game as Amanda Fleischman stole second and scored on a sacrifice fly from Lauren Greer. Despite having runners on the corners and two outs, Vercoe forced the Huskies number three hitter to fly out to left, ending the threat.
Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) got the Bucs off to positive note to start the bottom half of the inning by doubling down the left field line. Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) moved Haverman over to third with a sacrifice bunt, and the junior finally scored when freshman Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) reached on a fielding error, tying the game at two. With runners on first and second and senior Gaynord stepping to the plate the Bucs thought they had another chance to push more runs across the plate, but she ended up striking out to end the inning.
Both offensives went cold during the next four innings as the pitchers settled down, allowing only one hit throughout the four frames. Gaynord was the only batter to find a gap as she singled up the middle in the seventh. However, the sleeping giant woke up in the ninth when the Huskies pushed two runs across the plate with a big two-out single, and picked up one more run with an RBI double one batter later. Things started well for the Bucs in the bottom of ninth when Haverman reached second, but back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout ended the game for ETSU.
Gaynord finished the day with two of the four hits for ETSU and scored one of its two runs. Despite the loss, Vercoe limited the 15th team in the country to only six hits and three earned runs over the nine innings.
ETSU returns to action later on this evening when they play its second game of the Wilson Invitational. The Bucs face off with Hofstra at 8 p.m.