ETSU's offensive explosion leaves Milligan feeling blue
Saturday, March 24, 2007

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 24, 2007) - The ETSU softball team took full advantage of a picturesque spring day on Saturday, as they totaled 21 runs on 25 hits en route to its fourth series sweep of the season by knocking off Milligan, 10-7 and 11-0. With the sweep, the Bucs improve to 13-15, while the Lady Buffs drop to 16-14.


In game one, Milligan plated three runs before the Bucs even had an at-bat as Laken Stewart drove in the Lady Buffs' first run of the afternoon with her double to center. Stewart and Megan Aldridge crossed the plate when Jessica Blevins doubled to left-center, giving Milligan an early 3-0 lead.


The Bucs got on the board in the bottom half of the inning when Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) doubled home freshman Katy Jett (Talbot, Tenn.), cutting the lead to 3-1. A lead off homer by Stewart in the third led to Vercoe's early departure; however, Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) did her job to keep the game close, and waited for ETSU's bats to finally come alive.


After the Stewart home run, ETSU rallied by scoring the games next eight runs, and took a 9-4 lead after the fifth. The Bucs got things going in the third when freshman Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) led off the inning with a single, and later scored on Jett's ground out to third. Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) and Vercoe then posted back-to-back hits, and Hackworth eventually scored on a wild pitch from Maegan Hambrick, making it a one-run deficit, 4-3.


ETSU took advantage of some poor fielding by Milligan in the fifth, as the Bucs came to the plate 12 times. Jett tied the game at four, when her double to center drove in Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) for the first run of the inning. The Lady Buffs could have easily been out of the jam, but back-to-back errors by Leah Fritts (right field) and Stewart (short) prolonged the inning for ETSU. Jett scored the second run of the inning on the error by Fritts, and Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) made Milligan pay for keeping the rally alive when she doubled home Hackworth and Veroce, giving the Bucs an 8-4 lead. The double by Knight ended Hambrick's day on the mound as junior Jennifer Wise come in to relieve her teammate. Knight went to third on passed ball by Wise and scored the final run of the inning when Hardy singled to right.


Both teams pushed a run across the plate in the sixth, but the combination of Hardy and Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was able to hold off Milligan's rally in the seventh. The Lady Buffs' Jessica Blevins smacked a two-run homer off Hardy with two outs, which led to Gilbert's appearance to make the final out. Hardy worked 4.2 innings in relief, allowing three runs on four hits en route to her first collegiate win, while Gilbert picked up her third save of the season.


The Bucs scored runs in each of their first four innings and defeated Milligan, 11-0, in the nightcap on Saturday. Eight of the 11 ETSU hitters that stepped in the batters box picked up at least one hit, and six of them posted a multi-hit game.


Jett got the Bucs on the board as she belted her third home run of the season off Kayla Walker in the first. ETSU plated two more runs in the bottom half of the first, giving them a three-run lead.


After pushing a run across the plate in the second and two more in the third, the Bucs were ready to make quick work of the Lady Buffs, as they scored five times in the fourth. Stephanie Cope (Maryville, Tenn.) led off the inning with a walk and scored on the next play when Cason tripled to left. Gaynord drove in Cason one play later with a single to center, and a singles by Jett and Hackworth loaded the bases for senior Allison Burnette (Ten Mile, Tenn.). Burnette, pinch hitting for Vercoe, made her lone at-bat an important one, by recording her first hit of the season and driving in two runs. The Bucs scored one more run in the inning, making it 11-0 after four.


Gilbert snapped her four-game losing streak by sending the Lady Buffs down in order in the fifth, ending the game due to the mercy rule. The freshman from Murfreesboro did not issue any walks, struck out four and allowed only two hits in the win.


The Bucs as a team had a stellar day at the plate on Saturday as they went 25-for-53 (.472) with eight doubles, one triple and two home runs. Vercoe sure made up for her difficulties on the mound with her bat, as she finished the day going, 5-for-6 (.833) with three doubles, four runs scored and two RBI. Jett also provided a solid performance, finishing 4-of-7 (.571) with a double, home run and three RBI.


ETSU will now embark on its first conference road trip of the season when they head to Buies Creek, N.C. to face Campbell, on Tuesday, March 27. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.