Bucs split day one at CofC Classic
MT PLEASANT, S.C. (Feb. 15, 2013) – With the help of freshman pitcher Sam Harell (Okeechobee, Fla.) tossing her first collegiate shutout and junior third baseman Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) going 6-for-7 at the plate, the ETSU softball team earned its first win of the season and an opening day split Friday at the College of Charleston Classic.
Harrell’s shutout came in game one, pitching all seven innings, striking out six and allowing just three hits against Towson (4-2) for the, 6-0, ETSU (1-5) win. Baird was 3-for-4 with an RBI double in the second, but the big blow came in the fifth when sophomore outfielder Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) singled in two runs in what turned out to be a four-run inning to put the Bucs on top by the eventual final.
The opening day sweep was a tough task going up against Syracuse (1-0) – receiving votes in the latest national polls. Even though ETSU outhit the Orange, 7-4, a first-inning error allowed three unearned runs to cross the plate and help Cuse to a, 4-0, victory. Baird singled in all three of her at bats, while junior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) and sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) finished with two hits apiece.
“I thought the team played pretty well today,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “It’s always good to get a tournament started with a win and I really thought the girls played a complete game against Towson in all aspects. We had clutch hits and Sam Harrell threw really well in the circle. She cut down on her walks and forced them to put the ball in play.
“We lined into a couple double plays in the Syracuse game and it killed our momentum when we had chances to score. Although we lost, we did some decent things, but we have to continue to narrow our focus when we have runners in scoring position. Katie threw really well giving up just the one earned run.
“All in all, we played much better today than we did all of last weekend. We played much better defense, although we had the costly error in the second game. It’s a journey. The season is a marathon and we took several positive strides today.”
Game 1 – ETSU 6, Towson 0
Coming off four losses at last weekend’s Plainsmen Invitational, the Bucs were in need of a positive start to the CofC Classic held at Patriots Point.
Led by Harrell’s shutout, the Bucs got just that.
ETSU scored in the home half of the first inning to gain the lead and Harrell took it the rest of the way, striking out six and allowing just six runners to reach base all game. After the Bucs put up four insurance runs in the fifth, Harrell went into a complete comfort zone, retiring six of the last seven batters to step to the plate.
“Getting my first few games out of the way last weekend really helped,” commented Harrell, who started two of ETSU’s four games in Auburn and now has an ERA of 1.78. “I felt more confident in the circle and changed my pitching strategy a bit from last week.”
Wolff got the offense going with an RBI single to center in the first scoring Fox from second. Baird drove in the second run in the third inning. After Everett worked a one-out walk and Wolff popped out, Baird delivered the two-out RBI with a double to right field to put the Bucs up by two.
Towson threatened in the fourth with two on and one out, but Harrell forced the next two Tigers to pop up to the infield to silence any damage.
Harrell’s situation got much more comfortable in the fifth. Freshman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) doubled to start what turned out to be ETSU’s most productive inning of the young season. After Fox reached on an infield single to move Carpenter to third and later stole second, Everett drove them both home with a single up the middle, ending Katie Lingmai’s day in the circle.
The pitching change didn’t stop ETSU from putting up two more in the inning. With the bases loaded and two down, sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) worked a walk to drive in another. Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) then stepped up to pinch hit for Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.), singling through the left side to drive in the fourth run of the inning. Senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) tried to make it five, but was gunned down from left at the plate.
Regardless, ETSU led by six and Harrell closed out the Bucs' first win of the season.
Game 2 – Syracuse 4, ETSU 0
The Bucs had little time to celebrate the season’s first win, having just 30 minutes to prepare for their next game against a Syracuse team that went 43-16 last year and earned a bid to the NCAA Regionals.
A costly error in the first ensured the Orange of a 1-0 start to the 2013 season. A throw from Baird to second baseman Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) with one out and one on wound up in right field and Syracuse took advantage, scoring three unearned runs all with two outs.
The miscue didn’t stop Baird from having another spectacular game at the plate, as she went 3-for-3 to raise her average to .625 through the first six games.
“I feel like I’ve prepared myself better for the season this year than I have the last few years,” said Baird, who also leads the team with an on-base percentage of .684. “I thought the whole team played well, we just left too many people on base.”
The Bucs left nine on base against the Orange, leaving the bases loaded in both the fourth and sixth innings. For the majority of the game it seemed the Bucs were even outplaying a team receiving votes in the national polls, but at the end of the day Syracuse was able to score four times on just four hits while ETSU couldn’t cross the plate on seven hits.
Corrine Ozanne drove in the first run, singling to Baird at third base following the error and driving in Morgan Nandin. Riley Johnson increased the damage, doubling to right center to put Cuse up, 3-0, from the start.
Wolff settled down and kept the Orange at bay through the middle innings, ending the game with seven strikeouts and allowing just one earned run. That run came in the sixth when Danielle Chitkowski hit a sac fly to left, scoring Julie Wambold who singled off Wolff to start the inning.
The Bucs will look to put more in the win column Saturday, getting day two started against James Madison at 10 a.m., followed by a mid-afternoon game with host CofC.
ETSU fans waiting Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on ETSU Buccaneer softball, please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.