Bucs split on day one of Cougar Classic
Bucs split on day one of Cougar Classic
Saturday, February 19, 2011

ETSU topples Towson in opener, but Bucs drop heartbreaker to Morehead State in nightcap

CHARLESTON, S.C., (Feb. 17, 2011) - The Bucs scored five runs in the third and held off a late Towson rally as the ETSU softball team defeated the Tigers, 7-5, in the first game of the Cougar Classic on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, the Blue and Gold couldn't hold off another comeback as Morehead State scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh and Kayla Ashbrook's walk-off home run in the eighth inning gave the Eagles a 7-5 victory from the Patriots Point Athletics Complex in Charleston, S.C.

Overall, senior leader Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) hit .600 (3-5) with a double, home run, two RBIs and four runs scored in the two games on Friday. In addition, sophomore Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) and freshman Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) each hit .500. Lower went 3-for-6 with a double, run scored and three RBIs, while Baird also went 3-for-6 with a double and two walks. Junior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) earned the win against Towson and freshman Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) picked up the four-out save against the Tigers.

With the split, ETSU moved its record to 1-2, marking head coach Brad Irwin's first win at the helm for the Bucs.   

Towson Recap

Senior Katie Henderson went 2-for-2 with a double, home run and three runs scored and sophomore Sam Lower drove in a pair of runs as the ETSU softball team hung on to defeat Towson, 7-5, on Friday afternoon in Charleston, S.C.

Shelby Morris earned the win (1-0) after allowing five runs (one earned) on nine hits in 5.2 innings of work, while Katie Wolff picked up the four-out save by tossing the final inning and a third. Joining Henderson and Lower with strong offensive outputs was Jackie Baird. Baird reached base all three times after earning two walks and smashing a double in third.  

After leaving a Towson (1-1) runner stranded in scoring position in the top half of the first, the Bucs quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning, thanks to the Blue and Gold taking advantage of Henderson's two-out walk. Lower drove in her teammate on the following at-bat with an RBI double to left-center, marking ETSU's first run of the season.

The Tigers tied things at one in the top of the third with a two-out RBI single, but the Bucs quickly regained a 6-1 lead after plating five runs on four hits and capitalizing on three Towson errors in the bottom of the frame. Sophomore Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on Henderson's double to center. Martin came in to score the first run of the inning when Lower reached on a fielding error at third, while Henderson crossed the dish after Baird blasted a double to right-center - putting runners on second and third with only one out. Back-to-back errors by senior and all-conference selection Sammi DiPompo at short led to Lower and Baird scoring - making it a 5-1 ballgame. Wolff capped off the scoring spree when her RBI single to right-center scored Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) for the Bucs' fifth run of the inning.  

ETSU added an insurance run in the fourth when Henderson's two-out solo home run put the Bucs up 7-1.

The Bucs worked out of a one-out bases loaded jam in the fifth as Morris forced Lindsey Kent to hit into an inning-ending double play. Kent hit a sharp liner to second, but Lower snagged the ball and turned two by getting DiPompo out at first to end the scoring threat.

Towson scored four unearned runs in the top of the sixth to chase Morris from the circle, but with two outs, a runner on third and ETSU clinging to a 7-5 lead, Wolff struck out DiPompo to end the inning. Wolff walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, but sent down the next three Tiger hitters she faced to earn her first collegiate save.  

Morehead State Recap

Morehead State rallied from a four-run deficit after capitalizing on three costly Buccaneer errors in the seventh and Kayla Ashbrook's two-run walk-off homer in the eighth inning lifted the Eagles to their first win of the season, 7-5.  

Morehead State (1-4) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as right-hander Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) endured some back luck in the top of the first. After retiring the first two Eagle hitters she faced, Ashbrook recorded a two-out single and moved into scoring position by swiping second. Ashbrook advanced to third on Amber Riddle's infield single and later scored on an illegal pitch by Duncan.

The Bucs looked to have something brewing in the second as Sam Lower worked a walk and Jackie Baird reached on a bunt single, but with the two ETSU runners standing on first and second, Morehead State's Ashley Imperial retired the next three Blue and Gold hitters to work out of the jam.

The Eagles threatened in the second, but Duncan forced Elizabeth Wagner to fly out to left to end the inning with the bases loaded.

After being held scoreless for the first three innings, ETSU finally got on the board by plating one run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. The Bucs tied the game at one thanks to some coach Irwin small-ball tactics in the fourth. Katie Henderson led off the inning with single down the right field line and moved to second on sac-bunt by Lower. Then, after Baird lined out to short, Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) singled to through the right side - advancing Henderson to third. Junior Amy Campbell came through in the clutch when her two-out RBI single plated Henderson to even things up.

Morehead State went to the bullpen to start the top of the fifth and the move backfired as the Bucs grabbed their first lead of the afternoon when Henderson's sac-fly RBI scored Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) from third. Lower gave ETSU a two-run cushion when her RBI single drove in Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.), making it a 3-1 game.

ETSU added its fourth run in the sixth when the Bucs scored on a fielding error by Stephanie Etter at second, giving Hartnett the opportunity to come home.

Unfortunately, after the Bucs tacked on their fifth run in the seventh, Morehead rallied for four runs on two hits and three errors in the bottom of the seventh to tie it five. With the international tiebreaker rule coming into play in the eighth, Katie Wolff was placed on second to start the inning, but she and Lower were left stranded at second and third after Baird and Hensley both hit into ground outs. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Ashbrook broke the hearts of the Buccaneer faithful as she sent a ball flying over the fence in left to seal the come-from-behind victory.

Wolff suffered the loss (0-1) after allowing the two-run homer in the eighth, while Duncan was charged for five runs (three earned) in 6.1 innings of work. Imperial earned her first win of the season (1-2) after issuing three runs (two earned) on ten hits in 7.2 innings.

The Bucs return to action Saturday when ETSU takes on Akron at noon and Charleston at 2 p.m. Live stats of the Akron game will be available thru CofCSports.com, while live video streaming of the Charleston game will be offered for a fee of $8.95.  

For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.