BOONE, N.C. (March 31, 2010) - The old adage says "Pitching comes before hitting."
On Tuesday evening in Boone, N.C., the ETSU softball team proved the saying right, as all four Lady Buccaneer pitchers saw action and contributed to a sweep over Appalachian State. Junior newcomer Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) tossed four strong innings in game one, and senior right-hander Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) earned the win by dealing three innings of one-hit ball as ETSU knocked off the Mountaineers, 3-1, from Sywassink/Loyd Field. Then, senior Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) earned the win and sophomore righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) pitched three innings in relief to pick up her second career save in the 2-1 victory over Appalachian State in the nightcap.
With the sweep, ETSU has now won three of its last four games and improved to 12-20, while Appalachian State dipped to 15-12.
In the wins, the Lady Bucs' pitching staff allowed one earned run in 14.0 innings and limited the Mountaineer hitters to a .204 batting average.
GAME ONE RECAP
Senior right-hander Marissa Hardy tossed three innings of one-hit ball in relief and freshman Sam Lower's (Sebring, Fla.) two-run scoring single in the sixth broke a 1-all game, as the Lady Bucs went on to defeat Appalachian State, 3-1, in the opener.
Junior newcomer Jessica Duncan got the starting nod and allowed one run on two hits in four innings of work. At the plate, senior Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) went 2-for-4, while freshman Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) drove in a pair of runs.
After having Appalachian State jump out to an early 1-0 lead on Katie Boyd's two-out solo home run to center in the bottom of the first, the Lady Bucs fired back to even the game at one thanks to an Appalachian State fielding miscue with two outs in the second. With one out, junior Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) blasted a single up the middle and quickly advanced to second on Lower's ground out to short. Then, with two outs and Henderson in scoring position, the Lady Bucs took advantage of a Mountaineer fielding error, as the Jackson, Tenn. native came in to score when Maria Gulas had trouble with Mikayla Treadway's (Unicoi, Tenn.) roller to first - tying the game at one.
The Mountaineers threatened in the third as Appalachian State loaded the bases with two outs; however, pitching around Boyd paid off for the Lady Bucs as Duncan struck out the side by getting Allie Cashion out swinging to end the frame.
ETSU, who was held without a hit since Henderson's one-out single in the second, looked to have something brewing in the fifth when Treadway and Cason led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Unfortunately, the Lady Bucs couldn't push any runs across the plate, as Lucy Schneider (Dade City, Fla.) was doubled up on a grounder to third and Hannah Dow got Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) to pop into an inning-ending out back to the circle.
In the bottom of the fifth, Hardy entered in relief, and the Rocklin, Calif. native did a great job working out of a jam. Dow led off the inning with a single to center, and Michelle Gorzelle reached on a fielder's choice when pinch runner Louise Gibson was tagged out at second. Then, Gorzelle stole second and advanced to third on Sarah Rappe's ground out to second. Fortunately, Hardy kept Gorzelle stranded at third when she got Megan Rembielak to foul out to Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) behind the plate.
The Lady Bucs finally broke the tie by plating two runs in the sixth to take a 3-1 advantage. Massenzo led things off with a single through the left side and moved to second when Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) reached on a fielding error at third. After Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) entered as a pinch runner for Garner, Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.) singled to right, but Massenzo was gunned down at the plate for the first out of the inning. Both Hartnett and Delisa advanced on the throw - and after Henderson struck out swinging for the second out of the inning - Lower came through with the clutch hit by driving in both runs with a single through the left side.
Hardy did her job in the circle by retiring nine of the 11 ASU hitters she faced in the final three innings to earn her first win since defeating Central Connecticut State back on Feb. 26. Hardy allowed only one hit to improve her record to 2-8 on the year. Dow suffered the loss and moved to 3-5 on the season after allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits it 5.2 innings.
GAME TWO RECAP
After seeing their counterparts put together dominating pitching efforts in game one, the tandem of Darci Gilbert and Shelby Morris followed suit in the 2-1 win in game two.
Gilbert improved to 3-2 on the season after tossing four scoreless innings and scattering five hits, while Morris picked up her second career save by pitching the final three innings in relief. Now in her last 13.0 pitched, Gilbert has allowed one earned run and struck out three.
For the second straight game, Cheniece Cason recorded two hits in four plate appearances, while Sam Lower also posted two hits and drove in one run.
In the bottom of the first, Gilbert left two Mountaineer runners stranded on first and second, and the Lady Buccaneer teammates rewarded her with an early 1-0 lead after Mikayla Treadway drove in her first collegiate RBI when her two-out single down the left field line plated Sam Lower from third in the top of the second.
Appalachian State flirted with a big inning in the bottom of the fourth, but Gilbert kept her composure and worked out of a huge pickle. The Mountaineers led off the inning with consecutive singles, but Gilbert forced McKenzie Phillips to hit into a fielder's choice - putting runners on the corners with one out. After Phillips stole second, Gilbert recorded the second out of the inning by getting Michelle Gorzelle to tap back to the circle. The Murfreesboro, Tenn. native then got out of the frame when Hannah Dow hit a grounder to short and Cason touched second to get the force.
As the Mountaineers failed to score a run in the fourth, ETSU made Appalachian State pay by tacking on an additional run of its own in the sixth. The Lady Bucs were able to put two of their first three hitters aboard to start the inning as Lucy Schneider led off with a walk - and after Katy Jett popped out to second - Trisha Massenzo reached on a fielding error at short. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, Lower gave ETSU a 2-0 lead on an RBI single to left.
Tacking on the second run proved to be critical for ETSU, as Appalachian State plated its first run of the game in the bottom half the inning. The first two Mountaineer runners reached via the walk, but Morris - who entered in relief to start the fifth - forced Michelle Lighton to make the first out by lining out to center. However, Phillips reached on a single back to Morris on the next at-bat, and an error by the Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native on the play led to ASU scoring its run - making it a 2-1 ballgame. Morris made up for the error on the next play, as she forced Gorzelle to hit into an inning-ending double play. Gorzelle hit a roller back to Morris - and after she went to first to get the out - Arielle Garner fired a laser home to get Allie Cashion out at the plate.
Morris closed out the game by retiring three of the final four Appalachian State hitters to earn the save. Morris allowed the one unearned run and only surrendered two hits in the final three innings of work. Caitlin Wainwright was charged with the loss (8-4) after being tagged with both runs (one unearned) on seven hits in seven innings.
The Lady Bucs look to carry their winning ways over to conference action as ETSU hosts Stetson this Friday, April 2. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 4 p.m. at the ETSU Softball Complex.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.