Baird homers twice, but ETSU falls in opening two games
ATLANTA (Feb. 15, 2014) – On the heels of a 6-2 victory over Detroit in last weekend’s Music City Classic, the ETSU softball team suffered a pair of setbacks Saturday afternoon to begin the Panther Invitational in Atlanta, falling to Georgia Tech, 18-7, and Bowling Green, 5-4.
Committing five errors in their opening game against Georgia Tech, the Buccaneers (2-4) squandered a seven-run offensive performance, allowing the Yellow Jackets (4-1) to score 18 runs, including eight unearned runs in the first inning.
"We killed ourselves in the first inning of the Georgia Tech game with very poor defense,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “We have to come to compete from the very first pitch.”
The Bucs committed three of their five errors in the first inning, digging an 8-0 deficit before even stepping to the plate.
Offensively, ETSU plated seven runs, its second-best offensive performance of the season.
Trailing 18-1, the Bucs manufactured a five-run fourth inning to save face, with senior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) driving in Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) on a two-out single with the bases loaded.
Fellow senior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.), the very next batter, cleared the bases for the Bucs with a two-out grand slam to center field. Baird has now homered four times in ETSU’s first six games.
ETSU added another run in the fifth inning, with junior Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) driving in freshman Kelsey Chernak (Ooltewah, Tenn.), to cut its deficit to 18-7; however, the Bucs would get no closer.
The Yellow Jackets secured the 18-7 victory in just five innings due to the game being shortened by the 10-run “mercy rule.” Georgia Tech's 18 runs are the most runs scored by an ETSU opponent since the Bucs allowed No. 3 Tennessee to score 18 runs Feb. 15, 2011.
ETSU fared better in its second game of the day, erasing a 1-0 deficit to Bowling Green by scoring four runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Again, Wolff and Baird combined to lead the Bucs’ offensive attack.
Wolff doubled to plate junior Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) before Baird blasted her second home run of the day—this time, a two-run homer to right centerfield.
After pitching five and one-third solid innings, freshman Taylor Carter (Brazil, Ind.) saw her ERA balloon from 2.03 to 3.00 with just a few pitches.
Chelsea Raker and Erika Stratton belted back-to-back home runs for the Falcons (1-4) with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, tying the game at 4-4.
Junior pitcher Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) retired the first two Bowling Green batters in the seventh inning before walking Haley Schrock. The next batter, Amanda Durham, ended the game with a walk-off single that drove Schrock home, sealing a 5-4 win for the Falcons.
“We have to find a killer instinct,” Irwin said. “When we go ahead of a team, we have to learn to keep our focus and not let up.”
In ETSU’s two games, Baird batted 3-of-6, hitting two home runs, and driving in six runs.
The Bucs will look to shrug off Saturday’s losses as they take on Indiana and Georgia State Sunday, Feb. 16.
“Overall it was a very frustrating day,” Irwin said. “We have to bounce back and come out much better tomorrow."
ETSU will face Indiana at 12:15 p.m. before going toe-to-toe with tournament host Georgia State at 2:30 p.m.
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