PANTHERSVILLE, Ga. (Feb. 12, 2012) – The ETSU softball team suffered a pair of one-run heartbreaking losses on Sunday afternoon at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic from Bob Heck Field. The Bucs saw Longwood rally past the Blue and Gold in the first game, 3-2, while ETSU dropped an 11-10 nine-inning loss to Western Carolina in the consolation game of the tournament.
ETSU – who dropped its first four games of the season – had a couple of strong individual efforts this past weekend in Panthersville. Freshman infielder Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) hit .500 (6-12) with three RBI and three runs scored, while her five-hit effort against Western Carolina on Sunday set a new program record. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) hit safely in all four games this weekend en route to posting a .500 batting average (6-12) in her first weekend of collegiate play.
As a team, the Bucs played in three one-run games, while belting 37 hits in the four-game tournament.
ETSU vs. Longwood Recap
Longwood’s Brooke Short helped take down the Bucs not only with her bat, but also with her arm on Sunday morning in the Georgia State First Pitch Classic. Short went 2-for-3 with two RBI and tossed three innings of two hit ball as the Lancers rallied past ETSU, 3-2.
Senior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) held Longwood – who combined for 13 runs on 20 hits Saturday – to only the three runs on three hits, but it was the seven walks and three wild pitches that caught up with the Mount Juliet, Tenn. native. Meanwhile, Short picked up the save for Longwood, and Libby Morris earned her second straight win of the year after issuing two runs on three hits.
After going hitless in seven at-bats Saturday, sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) started day two of the tournament strong after going 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot, while senior Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and junior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) registered the RBIs for the Blue and Gold.
The Bucs had their chances to defeat Longwood – who finished the 2011 season with 37 wins – but ETSU left seven runners stranded and had base runners on in six of the seven innings.
Longwood (2-1) jumped out to the early 1-0 lead after an inning of play, but Morris did a solid job working out of the first inning jam. After walking the first two Lancer hitters to start the frame, Short drove in the first run of the game when she roped a double to right; however, with runners in scoring position and nobody out, the Buccaneer defense rose to the challenge. On the next at-bat, Morris threw a wild pitch, but with Kori Nishitomi coming home on the play, catcher Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) threw a strike to Morris to gun down the runner at the plate. From there, Morris forced Jordan Cox to line out to short, while getting Ashley Kramer to hit into an inning-ending grounder to third.
The Bucs bounced back in the second to grab a 2-1 lead courtesy of a bases loaded RBI single to left by Campbell, which brought home Alex Everett, while Hartnett scored Haley Thompson with an RBI ground out to short – giving the Blue and Gold the one-run cushion.
The walks and wild pitches continued to haunt Morris and the Bucs as Longwood regained a 3-2 lead after three innings of play. Nishitomi worked a one-out walk and advanced to second on Morris’ third wild pitch of the game, giving Short another chance to drive in a run. Short plated Nishitomi with an RBI single, while Marci Christian put the Lancers up for good when her bases loaded ground out scored Amy Putnam.
ETSU wasted a golden opportunity in the top of the fourth when Everett and Thompson both worked walks to begin the inning, but Morris battled back to get the next three Buccaneer batters out – keeping Longwood’s one-run lead intact.
Despite putting base runners on in six of the seven innings – including the last four frames – the Bucs were unable to find the clutch hit as the Lancers hung on for the one-run victory.
ETSU vs. Western Carolina Recap
Despite holding a pair of two-run leads (one in extra innings), the Bucs couldn’t hold on as Western Carolina outlasted the Blue and Gold, 11-10, in a 3-hour, 13-minute nine-inning slugfest in the consolation game of the Georgia State First Pitch Classic.
The Bucs trailed by four runs twice in the game, but fought back to take an 8-6 lead powered by Sam Lower’s (Sebring, Fla.) two-run blast in the fourth, while Lower and sophomore Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) each drove in runs in the eighth to give ETSU the 10-8 advantage. However, Western Carolina fought back in the bottom half of the inning to even things up, while an error by Lower at short led to the Catamounts scoring the game-winning run with one out in the ninth.
Haley Thompson powered a Buccaneer offense – who pounded out a season-high 20 hits – as the freshman infielder went 5-of-6 with two RBI and two runs scored. Meanwhile, Lower finished 4-for-6 with a home run, three RBI, and three runs scored.
Just like the Longwood game, the Bucs found themselves trailing after an inning of play as the Catamounts tallied two runs on four hits to capture the early lead. Haley Pace – who gave the Buccaneer pitchers some fits yesterday – put the Catamounts on the board first with an RBI double to center, while Shemekia Scotton followed with another RBI single to make it a 2-0 contest.
The Catamounts added to their lead in the second on a RBI single from Amelia Griffin, while she came around to score Western Carolina’s fourth run on an error by Amy Campbell at third.
After leaving runners stranded in scoring position in the first and second innings, the Bucs finally broke through for two runs in the third to cut the deficit in half. Thompson, Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) and Lower all recorded one out singles to load the bases, and Thompson came in to score when Wolff reached on a fielder’s choice. Then, with two outs and runners on first and second, Alex Everett drove in Lower with a single left, but Wolff was thrown out at third as she tried to advance on the play.
Western Carolina got the two runs back in the bottom of the inning when Makenzi McAteer’s one-out double brought in Heather Chastain and Alex Church.
However, things shifted in the top of the fourth.
The Buccaneer offense erupted as the Blue and Gold pulverized the Catamount pitchers en route to scoring six runs on five hits to grab the 8-6 lead. ETSU’s first three batters reached via singles and Thompson drove in the first two runs of the frame on a single to right, while Horner’s RBI ground out made it a one-run game, 6-5. From there, Lower stepped up with the clutch two-out, two-run home run to put the Bucs ahead for the first time, and pinch runner Lily Robins (Collierville, Tenn.) made it an 8-6 affair after she scored on an error by the Catamounts’ short stop.
The barrage of scoring continued in the Catamounts’ half of the fourth when Scotton’s two-out solo homer made it an 8-7 contest.
Once again, the Catamounts kept their steak of scoring at least one run per inning intact as Western Carolina tied things at eight when Jordan Fulton’s two-out single scored Megan Taylor from third.
Neither team scored in the sixth and seventh innings, forcing the game to go into extra innings.
Unfortunately, the Bucs couldn’t hold onto their two-run lead after plating a pair of runs in the eighth as Western Carolina added to the wild contest. After Griffin was placed on second to start the bottom half of the inning, she advanced to third on a wild pitch and eventually scored on Erin Foster’s RBI single. Foster then moved to second on a wild pitch and trotted to third on a passed ball – setting up Megan Taylor’s key pinch hit at-bat. Despite not getting a hit, Taylor’s grounder to second scored the tying run and moved the game into the ninth.
After ETSU couldn’t score a run despite having the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the ninth, the Catamounts made the Blue and Gold pay as Western Carolina scored the game-winning run in the bottom half of the inning to cap off the 3-hour, 13-minute affair.
Freshman right-hander Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) – who only allowed one earned run (three total runs) – was charged with the loss, while Jordan Garrett picked up her second win of the season after giving up two runs (one earned) on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work.
The Catamounts have now defeated ETSU in consecutive days and improved to 2-2 on the season.
The Bucs return to action on Friday, Feb. 17 when ETSU faces Ball State (10 a.m.) and Eastern Kentucky (5:30 p.m.) on the first day of the Quality Inn Classic in Troy, Ala.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.