CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 11, 2012) – Looking to finish the weekend off on a positive note, the ETSU softball team couldn’t overcome Long Island’s four-run third inning as the Blackbirds went on to defeat the Blue and Gold, 5-1, on Sunday morning at the USF Under Armour Showcase from the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex.
Junior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) reached base twice and drove in ETSU’s lone run with a single in the first, while fellow junior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) also reached twice and scored a run.
ETSU – who picked up a win on Friday and Saturday – was looking to cap off the tournament with a winning mark, but saw their record drop to 7-15. Meanwhile, Long Island, a team who has captured 10 Northeast Conference regular season championships and seven tournament titles since 2000 – improved to 5-20 with the win.
The Bucs made a leadoff walk to Lower pay as ETSU used some small-ball to plate the first run of the game in the top of the first. Following the walk to Lower, senior Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) moved her over to second on a sacrifice bunt and Lower advanced to third on a ground out by Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.). With two outs and the runner on third, Hartnett drove in Lower by beating out an infield single to short, making it a 1-0 game.
After being sent down in order in the bottom of the first, Long Island evened things at one in the second when Sterling Hoham’s sac-fly to center scored Madison Zymkowitz after she doubled to center and moved to third on a passed ball.
Unlike the first inning, the Bucs couldn’t drive in Lower after she led off the third by being hit by a pitch, as she was left stranded on second following a strikeout to Horner and a ground out from Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas).
From there, the Blackbirds put together their big inning and the Buccaneers had no answer.
Long Island strung together consecutive one-out singles in the bottom of the third, but after Wolff recorded her fourth strike out of the game, she walked the pitcher Megan Sheaf to load the bases. The walk was costly as Zymkowitz drove in two runs on a single to left, while Hoham plated her second and third runs of the game on a two-run scoring single to right – giving the Blackbirds a 5-1 lead. Following the single by Hoham, Wolff saw her day come to an end in the circle as senior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) entered in relief. Morris ended the four-run inning by forcing Jazmin Rodriguez to ground into a fielder’s choice.
ETSU put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth and had the leadoff batter on in the fifth, but couldn’t push any runs across the plate.
The Blue and Gold worked out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth, but Sheaf retired the Bucs in order in the top of the seventh to secure the victory.
Wolff suffered the loss (3-7) after allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits in 2.2 innings, while Sheaf earned the win (2-4) after allowing one run on five hits in the complete game effort. Morris gave the Bucs 3.1 innings of one-hit ball in relief.
After playing its first 22 games away from home, ETSU finally returns to Betty Basler Field when the Bucs host Appalachian State on Thursday evening. First pitch of the doubleheader with the Mountaineers is set for 5 p.m.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.