JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 30, 2012) – After sitting through a 3-hour, 51-minute rain delay in game one and playing past midnight in the second game, the ETSU softball team was left feeling drowsy as the Bucs were swept by Kennesaw State in the A-Sun opener on Friday night/Saturday morning at Betty Basler Field. The Bucs dropped game one, 4-3, and fell in the nightcap, 9-0 in five innings.
The Bucs – who were riding a three-game winning streak after tossing back-to-back shutouts against Western Carolina on Wednesday night – saw their record dip to 10-18, 0-2, while Kennesaw State has won seven straight against the Blue and Gold and improved to 18-16, 3-1 in A-Sun play.
ETSU will have a quick turnaround as the Bucs return to action Saturday afternoon as Mercer makes a trip to Betty Basler Field. Originally, the doubleheader was slated for 1/3 p.m., but due to the lengthy rain delay, the game times were moved back to 2/4 p.m.
Game One Recap
Kennesaw State used the long ball to rally its way past ETSU, as the Owls belted a pair of two-run home runs en route to claiming a 4-3 win after waiting out the 3-plus hour rain delay.
Sharon Swanson belted a two-out, two-run blast in the first – and after giving up the lead in the third – the Owls capped off the rally on Kaylee Williams’ two-out, two-run home run in the fifth.
Sophomore hurler Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) pitched well enough to win, but after the Blue and Gold left five runners stranded, the LaGrange, Texas native saw her record dip to 4-9. Wolff was charged with four runs on 10 hits in the complete game effort, while Kennesaw State’s Jessica Cross earned the win (6-8) and Abbey Mixon picked up the save (2). Cross issued three runs (two earned) on five hits in 4.2 innings work and Mixon came in to close the door by tossing 2.1 innings of shutout ball.
The Owls set the tone before ETSU could pick up a bat, as Cross reached on a two-out double to left-center and trotted home on Swanson’s two-run home run, giving Kennesaw State a 2-0 after a half-inning of play.
ETSU got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning when Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) reached on a fielding error by Kennesaw State’s second baseman and later scored on Casey Horner’s (Whitesburg, Tenn.) rocket RBI single up the middle. However, with one out and Horner at second, she was left stranded when Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) and Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) hit into ground outs to end the first.
At the conclusion of the inning lightning was spotted, and not long after that, rains came down which halted the game for three hours and fifty-one minutes.
Following the rain delay, the Owls threatened in the top of the second as they posted consecutive one out singles – and after a sac-bunt by Natalie Rhodes moved the runners into scoring position – Wolff induced Jensen Hackett to hit into an inning-ending ground out to short.
Once again, the Blue and Gold worked out of another jam in the third courtesy of two great defensive plays by Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) at second and Everett in right. The Owls had two runners on with one out in the inning, but after committing an error on a routine grounder, Thompson redeemed herself as she robbed Lindsay Vollmer of a single when she went deep in the hole at second to force a fielder’s choice. Thompson tossed the ball from her glove to Lower at second to get Bianca Durant out on a bang-bang play, while Wolff forced Williams to foul out to a charging Everett in right.
ETSU fed off the web gems in the bottom half of the inning and grabbed its first lead of the game, 3-2. Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) worked a leadoff walk and charged her way home when Martin found the gap in left-center for her third triple of the year, tying the game at two. Martin quickly scored the go-ahead run on the next at-bat when Thompson drove in her 12th run of season with a sacrifice-fly to deep center.
The common theme continued in the top of the fourth when Kennesaw State put a pair of runners on with only one out, but again the Bucs worked out of the inning unscathed. With one out and runners on first and second, Hackett hit a roller to short – and with Lower fielding the play – Carly Van Auken was called out by interfering with the shortstop. From there, Wolff left the two Owl runners stranded by getting Cross to fly out to Martin in center to end the frame.
After Cross only needed three pitches to retire ETSU in the bottom of the fourth, the Owls reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth when Williams’ two-out home run to left made it a 4-3 game.
Unfortunately, the Williams homer shifted all the momentum for good as the Bucs wasted a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom half of the fifth.
ETSU had runners on first and second with no outs when Cross struck out Thompson looking – and after a walk to Horner loaded the bases – the Kennesaw righty froze Lower for the second out of the inning. From there, Kennesaw State made a pitching change, and it worked, when Mixon came in to retire Everett on a slow roller to the circle.
Mixon went on to retire the final seven ETSU batters she faced to secure the win for the Owls.
Martin recorded two of the five hits for the Bucs, while Horner was a perfect 2-for-2 with a walk.
Game Two Recap
Coming off a heartbreaking loss in the opener, the Bucs were left sleep-walking their way through game two as Abbey Mixon tossed a four-hit shutout to capture the sweep with a 9-0 five-inning win in the nightcap.
Kennesaw State – who hit a pair of homers in the first game – accomplished the feat yet again as Jessica Cross and Bianca Durant both recorded two-run home runs. In total, the Owls connected on 10 hits, six going for extra bases, while the Bucs were held to only four hits and also committed four errors in the field.
Just like in game one, the Owls struck first when Kennesaw State went up 1-0 on Kaylee Williams’ one-out RBI single to left in the top of the second.
Kennesaw State extended its lead to 4-0 in the top of the third courtesy of an RBI double by Sharon Swanson and a two-run home run down the line in right by Durant.
Despite stringing together a double and single in the third, the Bucs were unable to scratch any runs across the dish as Annie Martin tried extending a one-out double into a triple, but she was gunned down at third on a perfect relay by the Owls. From there, Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) posted an infield single, but she was left stranded after Mixon recorded her fourth strikeout of the game when she got Casey Horner out swinging.
Again, the Owls went to the long ball in the fourth when Cross’ two-run, two-out blast to left-center gave Kennesaw State a comfortable, 6-0 lead.
Then, to add more salt into the Buccaneer wounds, Kennesaw State pushed three more across the plate in the fifth, making it a 9-0 contest. Carly Van Auken provided the big hit when her triple scored a pair of runs and she came in on the same play after Amy Campbell’s throw to third was high and went into the ETSU dugout.
After striking out six consecutive ETSU hitters from the third through fifth innings, Campbell finally ended the stretch when she connected on a two-out double to center in the fifth. However, the senior infielder was left stranded when Martin lined back to the circle to end the game.
Mixon improved to 5-2 on the year after tossing her second shutout of the year and also fanned a season-high 10 batters. Meanwhile, fresh off her first collegiate shutout, senior Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) had her streak of not allowing an earned run come to a halt at 14.2 innings. Morris was the dealt the loss (2-6) after issuing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in 4.1 innings.
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