Softball Bucs split doubleheader thriller with Mercer
Friday, April 25, 2008

MACON, Ga. (April 25, 2008) - The ETSU and Mercer softball squads traded leads and battled wire-to-wire in Friday's doubleheader from Sikes Field. In game one, the Lady Buccaneers survived everything the Bears threw at them, and in the end, ETSU walked away with a 5-4 victory after knocking out 11 hits. Unfortunately, Mercer rallied past the Softball Bucs, 5-3, in the nightcap to force a split in conference play. 


After the split, ETSU's record moved to 27-30, 9-11 in Atlantic Sun play; while the Bears pushed their mark to 31-23, 10-9. ETSU still holds the No. 4 seed after Campbell split with Gardner-Webb in Buies Creek, N.C.


The Lady Bucs struck early in game one as they strung together three consecutive two-out hits in the first inning and grabbed a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) started the hit parade as she made Jenni Holtz pay for leaving a ball over the heart of the plate and drove it over the center field wall for her seventh home run of the season. ETSU added to its lead when freshman Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) singled down the line in right - which scored Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) - who doubled in the same spot.


In the bottom of the inning, Mercer cut the Lady Bucs' lead in half on Ashley Anderson's two-out double to left-center. The hit scored Jamie Madruga all the way from first. Sophomore Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) made easy work of the first two batters she faced as she struck out both Holly Oglesbee and Page Raynor, but clutch hitting by the Bears paid off.


The long ball evened things at 2-2 in the third inning when Madruga belted her 10th home run of the season over the fence in right-center.


Mercer took its first lead of the game an inning later by taking advantage of a couple walks. With one out and runners on first and third, Crystal Condra laid down a bunt to first - which plated pinch runner Anna Johnson - after Amanda Haverman's (Kirkwood, Mo.) throw to the plate was late. Fortunately, for the Lady Bucs, they escaped without any other damage thanks to a key catch from Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.) in right and Hardy's fourth strikeout left runners stranded on first and second. 


ETSU made sure they did not trail for long after scoring two runs on three hits in the fifth inning. The Softball Bucs plated their first run on Hackworth's RBI infield single to third and went back ahead, 4-3, when Henderson's sacrifice fly to center was deep enough to score McCoy from third. Sophomore Katy Jett (Talbott, Tenn.) ignited the inning with a one-out double to the left field wall and came around to score the tying run on Hackworth's single. In between plays, McCoy also reached on an infield hit and Holtz intentionally walked Massenzo to load the bases.


Unfortunately, the see-saw affair continued in the bottom of the fifth, when Ashley Anderson's two-out homer tied the game at, 4-4. ETSU did a great job working out of the jam when Massenzo's diving grab in foul territory ended the frame, leaving two Bear runners on first and second.


Once again two-out hitting by the Lady Buccaneers propelled them to a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth. After Holtz retired the first two ETSU batters, Jett singled to left and advanced to second on McCoy's single to the right side. Then, Massenzo's single to left with two strikes scored Jett from second as she beat the throw home - which also proved to be the game-winner.


ETSU was able to hold on from there; however, the Lady Bucs had to make some huge plays to come away with the win. Mercer had a runner on second with two outs in the sixth when Page Raynor lined one to Hackworth at third and the ball ricocheted off her leg right to Hardy in the circle and her throw to Haverman beat her to the bag for the third out.


Hardy faced the heart of Mercer's lineup in the seventh, but she sent them packing 1-2-3 to earn her 16th victory of the season. The Rocklin, Calif. native tossed her 21st complete-game and allowed four runs on four hits while striking out five. Holtz suffered her ninth loss of the campaign after surrendering five runs on 11 hits.


Massenzo and Henderson each drove in two runs apiece and Hackworth chipped in with the other RBI. ETSU's one-through-four hitters combined to go 8-for-15 as Jett, McCoy, Massenzo and Hackworth all recorded two-hit games.


Just like they did in game one ETSU opened up to a quick lead in game two. Trisha Massenzo's RBI single past the bag at third scored Vicki McCoy after she singled through the middle and stole her 19th base of the season. Massenzo's blast just nicked the base and bounced into left - which gave McCoy the opportunity to score on the play.


Mercer scored two runs in the second to go up 2-1 on Crystal Condra's two-out bloop double to right. The hit brought home Ashley Anderson and Stacey Condra - who both singled earlier in the inning.


The Softball Bucs missed a chance to even the game in the third. McCoy led off the inning with a single up the middle, advanced to second on her fourth stolen base of the day, but was gunned down at the plate after she tried to score on Hackworth's single to right. Hackworth moved to second on the throw home and eased her way to third on Lacey Richardson's wild pitch. Unfortunately, Hackworth was left standing on third after Richardson forced Katie Henderson to pop up to first.


ETSU made up for its base running mistake the very next inning and regained the lead, 3-2. Amanda Haverman and Kate Powell (Johnson City) led things off with consecutive singles. Both players moved into scoring position on Briana Knight's (Brier, Wash.) grounder to first. From there, Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) reached on a fielder's choice and Katy Jett took one for the team as she was plunked in the back - which tied the game at 2-2. The Lady Bucs jumped ahead when McCoy laid down a perfect bunt and Powell slid under the tag at the plate after hustling down the third base line.


The Lady Buccaneers kept their one-run lead intact in the bottom of fourth thanks to Jett's cannon in center. With pinch runner Anna Johnson at second, C. Condra singled up the middle and Mercer's head coach Mike Raynor sent Johnson home; however, she arrived at the plate with the ball waiting for her as Massenzo tagged her out thanks to Jett's bullet. Freshman right-hander Ashley Boyd (Chattanooga, Tenn.) ended any threat by inducing Holly Oglesbee to fly out to right. The bad news for ETSU came an inning later when Madruga sent one flying out of the park, making it 3-3. Mercer chased Boyd later on in the frame after she issued back-to-back walks and Hardy entered in relief to a one-out bases loaded situation. Hardy made the first batter tap one back to the circle - resulting in a fielder's choice at the plate - but C. Condra came through a two-out single up the middle to give the Bears a one-run advantage. From there, Mercer pushed its lead to 5-3 after Hardy walked in a run; however, the right-hander ended the inning by punching out Oglesbee.


Mercer's Jenni Holtz - who lost game one - earned the win after tossing 3.2 innings of perfect ball. Boyd suffered the loss after lasting 4.1 IP and issuing five runs on hits.


Massenzo and McCoy were the hot hitters on Friday night as the duo combined to go 7-for-13 (.538). Massenzo went 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBI, while McCoy was 4-for-7 with four stolen bases, two runs scored, and one RBI.


The Lady Bucs wrap up regular-season play tomorrow afternoon when they travel to Kennesaw State and face the Lady Owls. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Bailey Park.