STATESBORO, Ga. (Feb. 11, 2018) – After squandering an early two-run lead, the ETSU softball team continued to battle, and the Buccaneers scored four sixth-inning runs to secure a 7-5 road win at Georgia Southern in Sunday’s final game of the Eagle Round Robin.
Nikki Grupp (Jacksonville, Fla.) – who went 2-for-4 with a home run, run scored and two RBI – extended her on-base streak to 15 consecutive games, while freshman second baseman Lauren Lee (Cleveland, Tenn.) sparked the Buccaneer sixth inning when she cleared the bases after reaching via a throwing error by Georgia Southern pitcher Heather Felt. Senior Kelsey Chernak (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and junior Taylor Wright (Erwin, Tenn.) both finished with two hits on Sunday, while Chernak scored a run and Emma Martindale (Johnson City, Tenn.) entered as a pinch runner for Wright in the sixth and scored a run.
Junior newcomer Vanessa Elliott (Johnson City, Tenn.) capped off a productive weekend as the Buccaneer outfielder went 3-for-4 with a double, run scored and an RBI on Sunday. For the weekend, Elliott paced the Blue and Gold with a blistering .643 batting average (9-for-14), along with recording two doubles, three runs and three RBI. Like Elliott, Lee also enjoyed her first collegiate softball weekend as she went 7-for-16 (.438) with three runs, a stolen base and did not commit an error in 24 chances.
Senior right-hander Madison Ogle (Maryville, Tenn.) picked up her second straight winning decision (2-1) after allowing two runs on five hits in five innings of work. Sophomore Kelly Schmidt (Norcross, Ga.) pitched the final two innings to finish the game and worked out of a dicey situation in the seventh. The Eagles plated two runs in the final inning – and with the rain coming down – had the winning run at the plate before Schmidt got out of trouble with a game-ending fly out to center.
Following her two wins this weekend, Ogle moved her career total to 19, which moves her into a tie for seventh all-time, while her three starts moved her career mark to 49, which is now sixth in program history.
The Bucs have now won back-to-back games and improved to 2-3, while Georgia Southern suffered its first loss of the season and moved to 3-1 after the first weekend of play.
For the weekend, ETSU used clutch hitting to bounce back into the win column as 12 of the Bucs’ 17 RBIs came via two out, along with 18 of their 42 hits coming with two outs. Seven different Buccaneers accounted for the 12 two-out RBI, while 12 different players tallied at least one two-out hit. Overall, the Blue and Gold hit .307 (42-for-137) with nine doubles and a home run, along with going a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases. The four stolen bases are two shy of last year’s season total when the Bucs went 6-of-11.
ETSU took its early 2-0 lead thanks to a two-out solo home run by Grupp in the bottom of the first, while she followed that up with a two-out RBI single up the middle in the third to score Elliot from second.
The Eagles used the long ball to even the game at two when Hannah Farrell homered in the fourth and Shelby Wilson hit a solo shot in the fifth.
However, the Bucs didn’t back down and fought back with the four-run sixth to go ahead for good, 6-2. Chernak started the rally with a one-out single, while a pair of two-out infield singles by Wright and Kelly Warren (Mechanicsville, Va.) loaded the baes for Lee. Lee sent a 1-1 pitch back to the circle and Felt double-pumped her throw to first, which was spiked in the dirt and allowed all three runs to score. Lee went to third on the play and later scored on Elliott’s single up the middle.
Georgia Southern chipped away at its deficit in the bottom half of the inning when Farrell connected on her second solo homer, but the Bucs got the run back in the top of the seventh. Tiffany Laughren (Erwin, Tenn.) reached on an error to start the inning and pinch runner Anissa Avila (Black Mountain, N.C.) stole second and moved to third on a groundout from Kylie Toler (Bradenton, Fla.). With two outs, the Buccaneer bats struck again when Kelsey Smith (Tucson, Ariz.) laced a single back to the pitcher to score Avila, making it a 7-3 game.
The Eagles threatened with two runs in the bottom of the seventh as they had runners on first and second with one out and the Bucs ahead, 7-4. Schmidt got Farrell to hit into a sacrifice fly to left and ended the game by inducing Macy Weeks into a game-ending fly out to center.
Wilson led the Eagles with a three-hit day and scored two runs, while Farrell went 2-for-3 with two home runs, two runs and three RBI. Felt took the loss (0-1) as she was charged with five runs (all unearned) on nine hits in four innings of work.
The Bucs return to action next Sunday when ETSU heads to Spartanburg, S.C. to take on Colgate (12 p.m.) and USC Upstate (2 p.m.).
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the softball page.