Hardy's three-hit shutout carries ETSU to a split over Kennesaw State
Saturday, April 26, 2008

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 26, 2008) - Sophomore right-hander Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) tossed a three-hit shutout and ETSU's surging offense rewarded her by pounding out 13 hits en route to a 6-0 victory over Kennesaw State in game one Saturday afternoon from Bailey Park. Hardy battled Angela Lopez pitch-by-pitch in game two, but Lyndsay McCurry's two-out RBI single to right snapped a scoreless affair in the fifth and lifted the Owls to 1-0 win in game two.


In game one, ETSU let a scoring opportunity slip through its fingers in the second inning. Senior first baseman Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) walked and pinch runner Cat Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) advanced to third after junior Kate Powell (Johnson City) reached on a throwing error by Jamie Kekaualua at second. However, with runners in scoring position and one out, Brittany Matthews struck out Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) and forced Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) to ground out to second.


The Lady Bucs made up for leaving runners stranded in the top of the second, and exploded for three runs on five hits the following inning. Sophomore sensation Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) led off the third with a scorching single to left and advanced to third on a successful hit-and-run attempt from the bat of Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.). McCoy singled to right-center and Jett eventually came home on ETSU's third single of the inning by junior slugger Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.). Haverman drove in the Softball Bucs' second run on a deep sacrifice fly to right - which plated sophomore catcher Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.). Sophomore standout Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) helped her cause in the circle when her double to the fence in right-center scored Hackworth easily from second, putting ETSU on top, 3-0. 


The hits and runs continued to pile up for the Lady Bucs in the fourth as they extended their advantage to, 6-0. Cason led things off with a single to center and advanced to second after Jett reached on a fielder's choice. Jett hit one to Amanda Malcom at short, but with Cason running on the play, she was able to dodge the tag at second. From there, both runners moved up a base on a Matthews wild pitch and Cason scored on McCoy's RBI grounder to third. After Jett found her in a rundown between short and third, Cason broke home and beat the throw from Malcom. Jett scored on ETSU's second sac fly of the game - which came off the bat of Massenzo. Following Hackworth's second single of the game; Haverman was singing double vision all the way to second as she drove in Hackworth from first with a two-bagger to right-center.


Hardy was cruising in the circle through the first four innings as she retired 11 of the first 13 batters she faced - while five came via the punch out.


After roughing up Matthews - the Preseason Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year selection - KSU made a pitching change and went to freshman Jessica Cross in relief. The Lady Bucs made Senior Day a memorable one for the left-handed ace as ETSU tagged her for six runs on nine hits in four innings of work. Matthews saw her mark fall to 21-8 and it also marked back-to-back years ETSU dealt her a loss.


The three runs in the third and fourth innings were more than enough for Hardy to work with as she paced her way to an already single-season program best 17th victory. The Rocklin, Calif. native was having a blast in the circle as tossed a three-hit shutout, marking her third blanking of the campaign. Hardy also notched her eighth 10-plus strikeout performance of the season by punching out 11 Owl batters.


Once again the top of the lineup was producing for head coach Andrea Mangrum's Lady Bucs. The 1-through-5 hitters combined for 10 of the 13 hits and five RBI. Jett finished game one 3-for-5 with two runs scored and McCoy, Massenzo, and Hackworth each recorded two-hit games; while Haverman drove in two runs.


Both Marissa Hardy and Angela Lopez found themselves in a pitchers duel in game two. Lopez faced the minimum through the first three innings and Hardy retired nine of the first 11 KSU batters.


The shutout continued until Kennesaw State struck for a run in the fifth. Small ball came into play as the Owls scored the game's only run as Hollie Huffman led off the inning with a single to right and advanced to scoring position on Sarah Hesterman's sacrifice bunt. ETSU looked to get out of the frame without any damage occurring, but Lyndsay McCurry's two-out RBI single to right scored Huffman from second, giving KSU a 1-0 lead.


Kennesaw State caught a huge break the very next inning as Cheniece Cason led things off with an infield single to short. Then, Katy Jett laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, but reached after Jamie Kekaualua dropped the ball at first; however, Cason never hesitated and quickly went to third but Huffman did a good job blocking the bag and tagged Cason out. Lopez retired the next two Lady Buccaneer batters and left Jett stranded at first.


The Lady Buccaneers continued to fight until the very end as Hackworth led off the seventh inning with a double to right-center. Unfortunately, Hackworth was called out on a tough play when Hardy popped up to the middle of the diamond and she collided with Amanda Malcom at short, resulting in a runners interference call on Hackworth. Lopez ended the game by forcing Kate Powell to fly out to short.


Lopez moved her record to 7-5 after going the distance and tossed her second shutout of the season. The right-hander allowed five hits and struck out five. Despite only allowing one run on four hits, Hardy saw her slate fall to 17-13.


With the split, the Softball Bucs move to 28-31, 10-12 in conference play, and stand one win away of tying the single-season wins mark in program history. Kennesaw State ended its season with a record of 36-18, 14-8 in A-Sun action.


Jett led the club on Saturday with a .571 batting average (4-for-7) and scored two runs, and Hackworth was 3-for-6 with a double, RBI and two runs scored.  


ETSU will head home and take its finals before heading down to DeLand, Fla. for the Atlantic Sun Tournament. The double-elimination tournament is hosted by Stetson and will be played from May 8-10. The Lady Buccaneers already know they will be a four seed and can plan on facing Stetson or Mercer in game one.


Stay tuned to www.ETSUBucs.com for full tournament news, including opponent and game times.