Update: ETSU's games on Saturday, Feb. 8 have been delayed due to cold temperatures and snow in Nashville. Game times TBA.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 7, 2014) - Leaving 10 runners on base, the ETSU softball team was unable to provide solid run support for freshman pitcher Taylor Carter (Brazil, Ind.) Friday afternoon as the Buccaneers suffered a season-opening setback to Tennessee State, 3-2, at the inaugural Music City Classic in Nashville.
Making her collegiate debut, Carter pitched five and two-thirds scoreless innings before allowing a go-ahead, three-run home run to Tennessee State's Kate Morris in the top of the sixth.
“Close ball games can change in an instant,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “We didn’t take advantage when we had runners in scoring position, and we let Tennessee State hang around in a close game. When you do that, you leave the door open for the game to change instantly like it did.”
Playing amid frigid temperatures, the Bucs (0-1) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead by capitalizing on a Tennessee State error in the second inning.
After driving a one-out single to right field, senior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) advanced to third when Tennessee State’s Kiarra Freeman botched a fly ball hit by Casey Horner. Wolff then crossed the plate for the Bucs on a base hit by junior Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.).
ETSU had a chance to extend its lead in the very next frame, loading the bases with just one out.
With Madison Boyd (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Kelsie Moore (Fellsmere, Fla.), and Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) on base, Wolff popped out to the shortstop before Moore was forced out at third on a fielder’s choice following a ground ball hit to Tennessee State third baseman Liz Stansberry.
Another costly Tennessee State error resulted in an ETSU run in the fourth inning. Reaching on a throwing error by shortstop Lindsey Burgess, Everett advanced to third on a single by Samantha Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) before scoring on a passed ball to give ETSU a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers (1-0) committed 106 fielding errors last season, ranking 284th out of 289 in the nation for fielding percentage (.924).
Carter’s scoreless effort was suddenly snapped in the sixth inning. After striking out the first two batters, the freshman allowed back-to-back singles by Ashley Haynes and Lindsey Burgess. ETSU’s two-run lead evaporated on a single pitch when Kate Morris belted a three-run home run to left center to give the Tigers their first lead of the afternoon.
“Taylor [Carter] definitely did not pitch poorly,” Irwin said. “One pitch can change the outcome of the game. Hopefully we are able to give her some better run support in the future.”
Over seven innings of work, Carter (0-1) struck out five and issued no walks while throwing 75 of her 119 pitches for strikes.
Olivia Gamache and Shea Morris combined to throw 135 pitches for Tennessee State, allowing six hits and four walks.
Down to its final out, ETSU refused to go down without a fight, as Baird drew a walk before advancing to second on a single by Wolff. Having worked the count full, junior shortstop Latosha Rectenwald (Whitesburg, Tenn.) grounded out to second base to end the game.
ETSU will continue play at the Music City Classic Friday, Feb. 8, facing off against Belmont at 12:30 p.m., and Butler at 5:30 p.m. Both games will be played at Rose Park on the campus of Belmont in Nashville.
“We will need to be much better offensively than we were today,” Irwin said. “We took too many pitches today. We need to get in the box looking to drive the ball and be more aggressive.”
Live stats for both games can be found at the Music City Classic’s “Tournament Central” by clicking here.
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