JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 31, 2012) – When the ETSU softball team looks back on the opening weekend of Atlantic Sun Conference play, the Bucs will know they let three games get away from them – including a pair on Saturday against Mercer.
In game one, the Bucs led 3-1 through four innings of play and had the game-tying run on second in the seventh before Mercer hung on for a 4-3 win. Then, in the nightcap, the Blue and Gold had the bases loaded with one out in the seventh when game-one winner Jessica Holsinger came in to pick up her first collegiate save in a 3-2 win at Betty Basler Field.
Following the sweep, the Bucs have now dropped four straight and saw their record dip to 10-20, 0-4, while Mercer improved to 22-14, 3-1 in A-Sun play.
Game One Recap
Despite jumping out to a three-run lead after an inning of play, the Bucs couldn’t muster up any more offense and Mercer rallied with a three-run fifth to take the opener, 4-3.
ETSU left seven runners stranded – including two in the seventh inning – when the Blue and Gold had the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first, before Jessica Holsinger forced Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) to hit into a game-ending roller to third.
The Bucs were led offensively by Jackie Baird’s (Ooltewah, Tenn.) two-hit, two-RBI game, while Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) poked a double and scored a run. Baird drove in her two runs with a double in the first, while Everett also doubled and scored on Baird’s two-bagger.
Once again, sophomore righty Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) pitched well enough to earn the win, but she suffered another loss to see her record drop to 4-10. Wolff allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits in the complete game effort, while after Holsinger issued three first-inning runs, she kept the Bucs off the board for the final six innings to improve her mark to 11-2.
After Katie Wolff sent the Bears down in order to start the game, the Blue and Gold jumped on Holsinger by plating three runs on three hits to take a 3-0 lead after one inning of play. With one out, the Bucs began the offensive explosion when Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) singled through the right side and moved to third on Everett’s fourth double of the season. Following a walk to Horner to load the bases, Baird came through with the two-RBI double to left and Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.) gave ETSU the three-run cushion when her sac-fly RBI scored Horner.
Unfortunately, that was the only offense generated by the Bucs for the remainder of the game and Mercer took advantage of it.
The Bears put a run on the board in the top of the second when Sara Stukes sent a two-out laser over the fence in the left for her fifth homer of the season, making it a 3-1 game.
With momentum hanging in the balance, the Bears shifted it to their side in the fifth when Mercer scored three runs on three hits and one costly error to take its first lead of the game, 4-3. The Bears plated their first run on a RBI double by Marko, but as Randi Rea tried to score from second, she was gunned down at the plate on the relay. However, following the double, McKenzie Woody scored the tying run on a passed ball, while Marko came in when Horner had the ball go right through the legs at first – giving the visitors from Macon a one-run advantage.
The Bucs – who were sent down in order in the fifth and sixth innings – didn’t go down without a fight as Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) led off the seventh with an infield single and moved into scoring position on Everett’s two-out single up the middle. However, with two outs and runners on first and second, Horner couldn’t post her 23rd RBI of the season as Holsinger got the red-shirt freshman to end the game on a ground out.
Wolff did a tremendous job keeping Woody, the A-Sun’s leading hitter (entering play on Saturday), in check. Woody didn’t record a hit, but did score the unearned run via the passed ball after being hit by a pitch in the fifth.
Game Two Recap
Senior Marlina Delisa went 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs; however, after her RBI single in the sixth evened things at two, Mercer’s Kristin Marko broke the hearts of the Buccaneer faithful when she drove in the game-winning run with a two-out RBI single in the seventh to cap off the sweep, 3-2.
After falling behind by a pair runs in the top of the first, senior righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) kept her team in it by holding the Bears to the one run on six hits in the final six innings of play. The Bucs rewarded the Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native with a RBI single to center in the second and Delisa came through again with a two-out RBI single in the sixth to pull even at two.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t stay tied for long, as Mercer went ahead for good on the Marko single, but just like in game one the Bucs looked like they were going to pull off the comeback.
Senior outfielder Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) led off the seventh with a double and freshman infielder Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) ripped her second hit of the game with a single to right, which ended the afternoon for starting pitcher Kassie Bailey. Jessica Holsinger was handed the ball and she quickly forced Alex Everett to foul out to first, but the Mercer pitcher loaded the bases after issuing a six-pitch walk to Casey Horner. However, Holsinger battled back as she struck out Jackie Baird swinging and ended the game by getting Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) to hit a soft pop up back to the circle.
Bailey earned the win (7-5) despite surrendering 10 hits, while Holsinger earned the save (1) after tossing one inning of shutout ball. Morris was tagged with the loss (2-7) as she allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in the complete game effort.
The Bears carried the positive momentum into the nightcap as Mercer pushed two runs across the dish in the top of the first to grab the early, 2-0 lead. Bailey’s one-out double to the gap in left-center plated the first run of the game, while she came in to score on a fielding error by Lower at short – which would have ended the inning.
ETSU threatened in the bottom half of the inning when Thompson laced a one-out double to left-center and moved to third on Everett’s ground out; however, following an intentional pass to Horner, Bailey worked out of the minor jam by inducing Baird to hit into an inning-ending grounder to third.
The Blue and Gold scratched a run across the plate in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit in half, 2-1, but ETSU missed out on a bigger inning. Lower led off the frame with a single to shallow center and later moved to third when Tara Hartnett reached on an infield to single to short. However, Hartnett was tagged out at second as she tried to advance when a throwing error by Sara Stukes went into right field. Eventually, Lower scored on the first of two RBI singles by Delisa – but instead of having runners on the corners following the Delisa single – ETSU only had the senior designated player standing on first and the Bucs couldn’t push the tying run across the dish.
In the fourth, ETSU had the tying run on third with two outs, but Martin hit a hard liner to Krista Kennedy at second and she snagged it for the final out of the inning, leaving Hartnett stranded out at third.
However, after staying calm and collected, the Blue and Gold finally broke through again in the sixth on the second RBI single by Delisa to pull even at two.
The lead didn’t last long though, as the Bears plated the game-winning run with two outs in the seventh to capture their second one-run victory of the afternoon.
Again, ETSU battled until the final out was made, but the Blue and Gold were left standing with their 10th one-run setback of the season and third of the weekend.
The Bucs will now have a week off before they return to the diamond as ETSU travels to Spartanburg, S.C. for a conference twinbill with USC Upstate on Saturday, April 7. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. at Cyrill Stadium.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.