DELAND, Fla. (May 9, 2008) - The ETSU softball team saw its run for a conference title fall short in Friday night's semifinal game to Campbell from Patricia Wilson Field. The Camels scored two runs in the first and tacked on three more in the third and advanced to tomorrow's championship game with a 5-2 victory over the Lady Bucs.
Despite having the season come to an end, the Lady Buccaneers should hang their head high after break a few school records; including being the first team in school history to post a 30-win campaign. With the loss, ETSU saw its season end with a record of 30-33; while Campbell improved to 40-23.
Sophomore Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) was tagged with the loss, but the reliable right-hander did everything she could to help her team try to move on to the championship game. Hardy's season record finished 19-15, but tossed 24 of the 27 IP for ETSU over the last two days. The Rocklin, Calif. native enjoyed a memorable season as she broke five Lady Buccaneer pitching records in 2008. Hardy broke the single-season records for wins, IP (229.1), appearances (41), strikeouts (261) and also set the new single-game strikeout mark with her 16K's vs. Presbyterian in March.
After the Lady Bucs were sent down in order to start the top half of the first, Campbell struck first on Shayla Cullum's two-run home run that hit the scoreboard in left-center. Again, ETSU looked to have gained some momentum after junior Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.) gunned down Courtney Quinn at home when she tried to score on Katie Hinton's single. From there, Amanda Littlejohn grounded out to Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) at first, but Cullum got the job done for the Camels when she hit her 14th home run of the season. Hardy punched out Karlie Love to end the inning.
ETSU did a great job working out of a jam in the second. Campbell led things off with consecutive singles, but Hardy settled in and struck out a pair of Camel hitters and induced Robin Leathers to fly out to short.
The Softball Bucs missed out on a scoring chance in the third after they left runners stranded at second and third. Senior second baseman Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) led off the inning with a single to short and moved over to second when Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) reached on a fielder's choice. Knight was safe at second when Campbell tried to make the force, but Amanda Miller could not handle the throw from Keeli Michael. McCoy advanced the runners in scoring position when she laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, but Brittany Stanley got Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) to pop out to second for the third out.
Once again the long ball came into play in the bottom of third. Sophomore Amanda Littlejohn made it back-to-back days with a home run against ETSU as she put Campbell ahead, 4-0, with a two-run shot over the center field fence. The Camels continued to add to their lead as they plated an additional run and led, 5-0, after three. Miller's bunt single was placed perfectly as neither Haverman nor Knight could get to the ball and scored Cullum from second. Hardy did an excellent job working out of a difficult situation as Campbell had runners on second and third with nobody out. The right-hander fanned the next two hitters, then hit Leathers, but worked out of the bases loaded jam by getting Ashley Jones to pop out to second.
The Lady Buccaneers got on the board in the fourth thanks to the hot bat of Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.). The junior third baseman extended her hitting streak to a season-high 10 straight games with a solo shot that flew over the fence in left-center, cutting the deficit to 5-1.
For the second time ETSU left runners left hanging at second and third after Stanley worked out of the inning without allowing any runs cross the plate in the fifth. Knight led off the frame with a single to left and advanced to second when Jett worked a one-out walk. From there, McCoy grounded out to third and both runners moved into scoring position. Unfortunately, for ETSU, Stanley worked out of trouble yet again.
Hardy did her job by keeping Campbell off the board from the fourth through sixth innings and ETSU continued to fight until the very end. Knight worked a leadoff walk in the seventh, and scored when sophomore Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) doubled to left, making it a 5-2 game. However, Stanley buckled down and retired the final three Lady Buccaneer hitters to earn the win.
Stanley improved to 24-9 after going the distance and allowing two runs on six hits.
Briana Knight reached all three times at the plate in her final collegiate game, going 2-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. Hackworth belted her second home run of the season in the fourth and Cason notched her fifth double of the season in the seventh.
The Lady Bucs say good-bye to two spectacular seniors as Haverman and Knight played their final game in an ETSU uniform. Both players have meant a lot to the softball program and will be truly missed.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.