Bucs unable to hold the lead
MACON, Ga. (March 10, 2013) – A game which began with a three-run, first-inning home run off the bat of Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) ended in a 10th-inning walk-off and a series sweep for Mercer as the ETSU softball team was defeated, 8-7, on Sunday afternoon from Sikes Field.
ETSU (7-10, 0-3 A-Sun) coughed up two separate three-run leads through the first five innings and then saw the game slip away. Unable to score their tiebreak runner in the top half of the 10th, the Buccaneers made the job easy for Mercer (14-12, 3-0 A-Sun). A passed ball advanced the winning run to third on the first pitch of the inning and two batters later Kaytlin Haney hit a high-bouncing grounder to second which gave Hugghins enough time to beat the throw home.
“Obviously, this one was tough to swallow,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “Each time we got the momentum, we couldn’t hold on. We have to do a better job of riding the momentum and holding the opposition the half-inning after we score.
“This was obviously not the way we wanted to start out in conference. We have to get back to work and come back next week against Presbyterian and Jacksonville with more intensity.”
Wolff pitched 9.0 innings in relief of starter Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.), giving up six hits, four runs, one earned, walking four, striking out one and was credited with the loss (2-5). Harrell gave up a go-ahead grand slam to Krista Kennedy and was pulled after recording just one out and earned a no decision. The home run derby continued into the second with Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) hitting her third of the year to level the score, but a long ball of the bat of V. Hugghins tied it once more in the fifth, 7-7, until Mercer walked off in the 10th.
Mercer starting pitcher Kerri Nidiffer didn’t last long either, going 1.0-plus while surrendering five runs on four hits. Julia Rice went the final nine innings to record the win (7-4), allowing ETSU just two runs, none earned, while walking and striking out two each.
Redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) went 2-for-5 with two runs and a double to end her weekend 6-for-13 (.462) and raise her average to .348. Wolff’s lone hit in five at-bats was the home run and the same held true for Lower through five plate appearances. Freshman second baseman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) had a solid 3-for-4 day.
The Bucs kept Ashton Holt fairly quiet after her seven-RBI Saturday, as Kennedy did most of the Sunday damage going 2-for-5 with the grand slam. V. Hugghins finished the game 2-for-4 with the solo shot and two runs.
A day after leaving a total of 21 runners on base in two games, the Buccaneers were determined to drive in their opportunities on Sunday. Wolff set the tone, belting her first long ball of the season over the wall in left on a 3-2 pitch with one out and two on in the first.
Mercer got it right back. McKenzie Woody began her 3-for-5 day with a leadoff single and Harrell walked two of the next three batters to load the bases with one out. Kennedy stepped up and one-upped ETSU’s blast with Mercer’s second slam in as many days to put the Bears out in front. Wolff entered for Harrell and got the last two outs on four pitches.
ETSU countered immediately. Lower led off the second and jumped on the first pitch to line the third homer of the day out over left field and tie the game. The next three Bucs all reached to load the bases with nobody out, but a sacrifice fly from Horner to grab the lead back was all ETSU managed.
The Bucs extended the lead to three once more with two in the fourth. With Carpenter on second after being sacrificed over by Lily Robins (Collierville, Tenn.), Fox beat out a grounder to second and the throw sailed high to score Carpenter. A passed ball and a wild pitch brought home Fox for the, 7-4, advantage.
Again, Mercer responded. With two outs and runners on first and second, a ground ball to second popped out of the glove of Carpenter to score one. Kennedy then stepped up and hit a grounder to short which Lower booted to score another and bring the Bears within a run.
Hugghins tied with a leadoff bomb in the fifth, landing her blast on the top of a shed a good 40 feet past the left field wall.
It was all zeros from then on until the tiebreak rules came into effect in the 10th.
The ETSU softball team is back in action on Thursday, heading to Clinton, S.C., for a doubleheader with Presbyterian. The Bucs then return home for the weekend in a three-game series against Jacksonville.
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.