ETSU Softball sweeps Furman in 2007 season opener
Saturday, February 10, 2007

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Feb. 10, 2007) - The ETSU softball team opened its 2007 season in good fashion as they went on the road and swept Furman Saturday afternoon at Pepsi Stadium. The Bucs took the first game of the doubleheader, 12-4, and then won a pitchers duel in game two, 2-1.


            With the sweep, the Bucs match the 2004 club with the best start in school history, while Furman falls to 0-3-1 on the young season.


            In game one, Furman got things rolling with a four-run second as Mary Catherine Vercoe (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) walked in the Paladins first run, and then surrendered a three-run double to Meredith Mielke. However, Vercoe settled down after that by holding Furman scoreless on four hits over the next five innings.


            ETSU did its damage in the fourth and fifth innings as they scored nine runs on only five hits during the two inning span. Freshman Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) and sophomore Vercoe got the Bucs on the board as they were both plunked back-to-back with the bases loaded, leading to the first two runs of the season. After seeing two of her teammates take one for the team, sophomore Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) made Furman pay for keeping the bases jammed as she belted her first grand slam of her career.


            In the fifth, the Bucs Stephanie Gaynord (Manassas, Va.) drove in Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) as she singled to left. With runners on first and second and two outs, Massenzo came through in the clutch as her second hit of the afternoon drove in two more runs for ETSU, giving them a 9-4 lead.


            Over the next two innings, Vercoe faced only eight Furman batters, keeping the Bucs lead at five. ETSU started the top of the seventh with three straight singles and picked up three more runs, extending its lead to 12-4. The sophomore hurler completed the game as she got Furman's Brythe Blakenship to ground out to third for the final out.


            ETSU had six players post multi-hit games which led to .382 team batting average (13-34) in game one. Hackworth and Massenzo drove in seven of the 12 runs for the Bucs, marking the most runs scored in an ETSU season-opener. Vercoe picked up the win as she allowed four runs on eight hits over the seven inning contest.


            After both teams put up goose eggs during the first three innings in game two, ETSU was the first team to cross the plate as they took advantage of some wild pitching from Furman's Blake Murray in the fourth. After allowing back-to-back singles to Massenzo and Veroce, Murray was rattled as she was charged with two consecutive wild pitches, moving the ETSU runners into scoring position. Junior Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) took advantage of the situation by driving in both runners as she doubled to left. That is all the scoring the Bucs did, but it was just enough to pick up the victory.


            Despite putting runners on in four of the first five innings freshman Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was able to work out of it as she held the Paladins scoreless through the first five innings. Gilbert worked out of jam in the sixth by allowing only one run on three hits and left two Furman runners stranded. The freshman right-hander walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh, but kept her composure as she ended the game by forcing the final three Furman hitters to ground out.


Even after being out hit seven-to-five in the nightcap, the Bucs were still able to muster enough offense to come home with the sweep. Gilbert earned her first collegiate win by allowing only one run on seven hits while striking out three.


            The ETSU softball team will now have a week off before they get set to play in its first tournament of the season. The Bucs will be tested early in the Wilson Invitational when they play 12th ranked Washington in game one down in Tampa, Fla. First pitch is set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17.