CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 9, 2012) – The Bucs rallied from a three-run deficit by scoring two in the sixth and one in the seventh, but Central Michigan pushed two runs across the plate in the top of the eighth to end ETSU’s comeback as the Chippewas defeated the Blue and Gold, 5-3, in the first game of the USF Under Armour Invitational on Friday afternoon from the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex.
After being shutout for the first five innings, the Buccaneer offense finally came alive in the sixth when ETSU strung together four consecutive hits, including RBI singles by Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) and Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) to cut its deficit to a run, 3-2. The Blue and Gold finally tied the game at three when Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) – who reached base twice and scored a run – scored on a throwing error by Central Michigan’s second baseman in the bottom of the seventh.
However, the comeback couldn’t be complete as the Chippewas plated a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to solidify the win.
Wolff – who tossed 176 pitches – saw her record drop to 3-5 after issuing five runs (three earned) on nine hits in the eight innings, while Morgan Yuncker entered in relief to earn the win. Yuncker improved to 2-2 after allowing one unearned run on one hit in 2.1 innings of work.
Central Michigan jumped out to the early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Summer Knoop’s one-out bloop single to center scored Brittney Horan from second. After Molly Coldren’s deep fly out to center moved Horan to third, the Chippewas left the runner stranded after Wolff struck out Chelsea DeLamielleure swinging to end the inning.
The Bucs escaped some damage in the third when Macy Merchant led off the inning with an infield single to short and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Once again, Knopp placed another bloop single to center, but the ETSU defense stepped up as Coldren flied out to right and Knopp was tagged out at second after Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) tried to get the lead runner out at third. However, Campbell’s awareness at third paid off as she threw a strike to Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) at short to gun down Knopp to end the inning.
Following the strong defensive effort in the top half of the inning, the Blue and Gold wasted a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third when Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.) broke up Chelsea Sundberg’s no-hitter with a single to left and advanced to second when Horan had trouble fielding the ball. Unfortunately, after junior outfielder Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) just missed a two-run homer run to left, Delisa was tagged out when Martin hit into a fielder’s choice to the circle. Sundberg got the Chippewas out of the inning by inducing Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) into a ground out at second.
The Chippewas extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth when a mental lapse by Thompson at second led to the second run to cross the dish. With two outs and runners on first and second, Central Michigan called for a double steal – but as Delisa came up firing down to second – Thompson never moved to cover the bag, which scored Brogan Darwin as the ball went straight into center.
ETSU threatened in the bottom of the inning when Lower led off the inning with a single to right-center and moved to second on Wolff’s two-out single to the same spot; however, both runners were left on the pond after Campbell hit into an inning-ending grounder to short.
Central Michigan added to its lead in the sixth when DeLamielleure’s sac-fly RBI to left scored Coldren, making it a 3-0 game.
The Bucs finally had an answer for Sundberg’s pitching in the sixth as the Blue and Gold strung together four consecutive two-out hits to make it a 3-2 game, while also chasing the Central Michigan hurler from the circle. Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) began the hit parade when she reached on a double – and after Mikayla Treadway (Unicoi, Tenn.) entered as a pinch runner – she came in to score on Wolff’s single to center, placing runners on first and second. Everett – who earlier singled was replaced by pinch runner Sade Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga.) – leading to the Lawrenceville, Ga. native coming in to score on Campbell’s single up the middle. The ETSU rally came to an end when Delisa grounded out to second, leaving runners stranded on first and second.
After holding the Chippewas scoreless in the seventh, the Bucs pulled even with Central Michigan for the first time all game when Martin – who reached on a single to right – eventually scored the tying run when Lower hit a grounder to short. With Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) on first, the Chippewas tried to turn the double-play, but after Baird was out via the force at second, the Central Michigan second baseman airmailed the throw to first leading to Martin coming in to score the tying run.
Unfortunately, the Bucs never took the lead as Central Michigan scored twice in the eighth to come away with the two-run win. The Chippewas scored their first run of the inning on an RBI single and tacked on the insurance run with a bases loaded walk.
Despite throwing over 175 pitches in the circle, Wolff still produced at the plate as she went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Bucs return to the diamond at 6:30 tonight when ETSU takes on Canisius.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.