Cason caps off game one rally with walk-off RBI; Hardy, Duncan limit Bears to two runs in game two
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 16, 2010) - Coming off a turbulent road swing last weekend in Jacksonville and in dire need of a momentum shift, the Lady Bucs stepped up in a big way to sweep Mercer on Friday evening at the friendly confines of the ETSU Softball Complex.
After trailing 4-1 through the first five and a half innings of game one, the Lady Bucs stormed back by plating three runs in the sixth and capped off the rally with Cheniece Cason's (Moreno Valley, Calif.) walk-off sacrifice fly RBI in seventh - lifting ETSU to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory. Then, in the nightcap, senior right-hander Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) went five strong innings to earn the win, while game one winner Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) tossed two shutout innings to pick up her first save in the 5-2 victory in game two.
The Lady Bucs ended an eight-game losing skid with the sweep and improved to 16-28, 5-9 in the Atlantic Sun. Meanwhile, Mercer dipped to 21-24, 3-7.
On a day where the Lady Bucs got a total team effort in the two wins, the Blue and Gold got some clutch production from their senior class. Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) led the charge by hitting .833 (5-6) with two doubles, two RBI and four runs scored, while catcher/first baseman Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI.
GAME ONE RECAP
After holding a 1-0 lead through the first four innings, Mercer struck for four runs in the top of the fifth; however, it was the Lady Bucs who got the last laugh. ETSU scored three times in the sixth and Cheniece Cason brought home Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) with a sac-fly to center, rallying the Lady Bucs to a 5-4 victory.
Jessica Duncan tossed 2.1 innings of two-hit ball in relief and improved to 7-7 on the year, while Mercer's Jenni Hotlz suffered the loss ( 13-14) after being charged for five runs (four earned) on nine hits in 6.2 innings of work.
The Lady Bucs struck first with a run in the first thanks to an error by Anna Johnson in right. With one out, Katy Jett reached on a single to left-center - and after stealing her 14th bag of the year - freshman Lucy Schneider (Dade City, Fla.) hit what looked to be a routine fly to right. However, miscommunication between the two Mercer outfielders, led to a collision - giving Jett the easy opportunity to score.
ETSU's lone run looked to have been all they needed as senior Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning.
Unfortunately, Sara Stukes spoiled the day with a leadoff single to left - and after Sarah Santana recorded a one-out single - Mercer had something brewing. Gilbert looked to have stopped the swing by forcing pinch hitter Stephanie Canara to pop out to second; however, it was the second pinch hit move by the Bears that paid huge dividends. With two outs and two on, Lilli Luke took a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left-center - giving the Bears their first lead of the game at 3-1. Mercer would tack on one more run in the inning to make it a three-run contest.
However, the Lady Bucs never gave up and fought back in the final two innings.
After Mercer left two runners on in the sixth, ETSU had some fun in the bottom half of the inning. Cason led things off with an infield hit and she quickly scored on Jett's RBI double to center - making it 4-2. Following Jett's two-bagger, Schneider stepped up with a double of her own to cut the deficit to one. Massenzo would even things up when her single marked the fourth straight hit of the inning and tied it at four.
With Duncan retiring three of the four hitters she faced in the seventh, the Lady Bucs had momentum on their side and it came into play in the bottom of the frame. Freshman Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) led off the inning with a pinch hit single to left, leading to Hartnett to come in as a the runner. From there, coach Andrea Mangrum made a gutsy call by going for the steal, but the play worked to perfection as Hartnett was standing on second. After fellow freshman and Hensley's high school teammate Mikayla Treadway (Unicoi, Tenn.) struggled to lay down a sac-bunt, her grounder to second was just as good, as Hartnett stormed her way to third with one out - leading to Cason's heroics. Down to her final strike, Cason found a pitch in her zone and sent one flying deep to center, which was long enough to score Hartnett and give the Lady Bucs the walk-off win, 5-4.
For the game, Jett finished 2-for-3 with a double, RBI, stolen base, and two runs scored. Massenzo recorded her eighth multi-hit game of the year by pounding out a pair of singles and driving in one.
GAME TWO RECAP
By taking game one in grand fashion, the Lady Bucs knew the day wouldn't be complete without picking up the much-needed sweep. ETSU struck early by plating two runs in the first and one in the second and held on for the 5-2 victory in the nightcap.
Katy Jett and junior catcher/third baseman Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) combined to go 5-for-5 with a double, home run, two RBI and four runs scored. Jett was a perfect 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and RBI, while Henderson belted a solo homer and scored twice.
ETSU's small-ball tactics came into play in the first and the Lady Bucs executed without a hitch. After working a leadoff walk, Cheniece Cason stole second and scored the games' first run on Jett's RBI single to center. With Jett taking second on the throw, the Talbott, Tenn. native took advantage of the slow release of Kristin Marko behind the plate and swiped third. Stealing the bag proved to be critical as the Jettster trotted home on Trisha Massenzo's RBI sac-fly to right - putting ETSU ahead, 2-0.
Mercer cut the lead in half on Marko's solo shot in the second, but the Lady Bucs got the run back on Amy Campbell's (Chattanooga, Tenn.) two-out RBI single to right-center in the bottom half of the inning.
The Lady Bucs plated their fourth run in the fourth when Henderson connected on her third homer of the season, while Massenzo's two-out RBI double in the fifth scored Jett to give ETSU the 5-1 advantage.
Marko homered for the second time in the sixth - making it 5-2 - but Jessica Duncan entered in relief to silence the Bears. Duncan held Mercer scoreless for the final two innings of work to earn her first save as a Lady Buc.
Marissa Hardy improved to 4-9 after allowing two runs on six hits, while punching out five. Kari Chambers was dealt the loss (6-5) after surrendering four runs on five hits in 3.2 innings.
The Lady Bucs return to action on Saturday afternoon when ETSU hosts Kennesaw State at 2 p.m. Prior to the game ETSU's five seniors will be honored with a special pregame ceremony.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.