TROY, Ala. (Feb. 17, 2012) – Despite holding leads in both games, the ETSU softball team couldn’t come away with its first victory of the season on Friday at the Quality Inn Classic from the Troy Softball Complex. In the first game, the Bucs led 2-0, but Ball State rallied with a five-run fifth to capture a 7-2 win, while Eastern Kentucky capped off the come-from-behind eight-inning victory in the nightcap, 3-2.
The Bucs – who have dropped their first six games to start the year – saw freshman outfielder Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) extend her hitting streak to six straight games, while sophomore pitcher/infielder Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) has reached base safely in all six games to start the season. Wolff also gave her team the chance to win against Eastern Kentucky as she allowed three runs (two earned) in 7.2 innings of work, but she was outlasted by a pair of Colonels pitchers.
After putting up solid numbers offensively last weekend at Georgia State, the Buccaneer offensive was stagnant in the opening day of the Quality Inn Classic on Friday. In the two games combined, ETSU left 10 runners stranded and recorded only nine hits in 53 at-bats.
ETSU will look to regroup and return to the diamond on Saturday as the Blue and Gold face Nicholls State at Noon (ET) and sixth-ranked Missouri at 2:30. The Missouri game time was moved up due to inclement weather expected to hit the southeast region.
ETSU vs. Ball State
Senior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) kept the potent Ball State offense in check for 4.1 innings of work, but things unraveled in the fifth as the Cardinals rallied for a 7-2 win in the first game of the Quality Inn Classic.
Morris – who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning – couldn’t catch a break in the frame as she suffered the loss to drop to 0-3 on the season. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native allowed five runs on four hits, while walking five in 4.2 innings.
Sophomore catcher Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) recorded one of ETSU’s three hits with a solo homer in the second, while Alex Everett and Katie Wolff accounted for the other two hits.
The Bucs grabbed an early 2-0 lead through the first two innings of play as Everett’s two-out RBI single through the left side scored Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) – who reached on a throwing error by Jessica Craft at short to begin the game. After taking the one-run cushion, Baird gave the Blue and Gold some more breathing room as she led off the top of the second with a solo blast down the left field line – making it a 2-0 contest.
With Morris holding down the Ball State offense through the first two innings of action, ETSU missed out on a chance to break the game open in the third. After sophomore designated player Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) worked a leadoff walk to start the inning, Wolff moved Horner to third with a double to right-center; however, Ball State’s Kim Mazzapica battled back to retire the next three Buccaneer hitters to keep it a 2-0 game.
Morris and the Bucs worked out of a jam in the third, as Morris walked two consecutive Ball State batters to begin the inning, but she got some help from her defense after that. With no outs and runners on first and second, the Cardinals tried to get sneaky on the bases as Ball State called for a double steal; however, Baird threw a strike to Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) at third to gun down Loren Cihlar for the first out of the frame. From there, Morris induced Amanda Carpenter to ground out to third, while striking out Jennifer Gilbert to end any potential threat of a rally.
However, the Bucs were unable to capitalize on the momentum and Ball State came charging back.
After keeping Ball State hitless through 4.1 innings, the wheels fell off as the Cardinals scored five runs on four hits to take the 5-2 lead. Morris retired the first batter she faced in the fifth, but after a one-out walk, Ball State strung together consecutive infield singles to load the bases. With one out and nowhere to put Carpenter, Morris issued her fifth walk of the game to plate Ball State’s first run of the game, while Gilbert put the Cardinals ahead for good on the next at-bat as she laced a single up the middle to score two runs – giving the Cardinal and White a 3-2 lead. Taylor Rager and Amanda Montalto each drove in runs later in the inning to give Ball State the three-run advantage. Following the RBI double to Montalto, Morris’ day was done as freshman righty Cara Woods (Erwin, Tenn.) entered in relief.
Woods got out of the fifth without allowing up any more runs, but the Erwin, Tenn. native was tagged for two runs on two hits as Ball State went on to capture the five-run victory.
Following Wolff’s double in the third, Mazzapica was in the zone as she retired the final 15 Buccaneer batters she faced to pick up the win. It total, Mazzapica allowed the two runs on three hits, while striking out five in seven innings of work.
Ball State – who has won two of the last three Mid-American Conference championships – won its season-opener against the Bucs.
ETSU vs. Eastern Kentucky
Eastern Kentucky’s Cheyanne Pounds broke a 2-all tie as her two-out walk-off single to left plated Shannon McQueen, lifting the Colonels to a 3-2 eight-inning win over the Bucs in the second game of the Quality Inn Classic.
Sophomore right-hander Katie Wolff (0-1) allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits, but she was out-dueled by Shaylon Robb and Leanna Pittsenbarger in the circle. Robb tossed six innings of two-run ball, while Pittsenbarger earned the win after pitching two perfect innings in relief.
Junior preseason all-conference selection Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) paced the Bucs with a 2-for-3 effort and also drove in a run, while senior Annie Martin and freshman Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) scored the two runs for ETSU.
Robb got the Colonels off to a strong start in the circle by striking out the side to start the top of the first, and Eastern Kentucky jumped out to the early 1-0 lead on McQueen’s two-out RBI single up the middle in the bottom half of the inning.
ETSU looked to have something brewing by putting its first two batters on to start the second inning, but the Colonels forced a double play and got Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) to hit into an inning-ending ground out to short.
However, the Blue and Gold took advantage of a couple miscues by Eastern Kentucky in the top of the third to grab a 2-1 lead. Martin began the charge with a two-out single and moved to third when Thompson reached via an error by McQueen at third. With runners on the corners, Martin scored on a wild pitch and Lower’s single scored Thompson from second – giving ETSU the one-run advantage.
The Bucs lead didn’t last long as the Colonels knotted things at two on Katie Thackett’s two-out RBI double to left-center in the bottom half of the inning.
From there, ETSU put three runners on in the next five innings – and after threatening to score in the sixth and seventh – the Colonels finally broke the tie as Pounds provided the heroics with two outs in eighth.
With the loss, the Bucs have now played in four one-run games this season and have led in each of their last four outings. Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky began its first weekend of play with a pair of extra-inning wins as the Colonels knocked off Nicholls State, 7-4, earlier on Friday.
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