ETSU's clutch hitting and dominate pitching sweep by Longwood on Senior Day
Saturday, April 12, 2008

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 12, 2008) - The ETSU softball team gave seniors Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) and Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) the best Senior Day gift they could receive as the Lady Bucs swept Longwood Saturday afternoon from Metro-Kiwanis Park.


ETSU received some clutch hitting and rode the strong arm from sophomore Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) en route to a pair of one-run victories from the gusty friendly confines. Hardy tossed back-to-back complete games and sophomore Katy Jett's (Talbott, Tenn.) two-out, walk-off single lifted the Softball Bucs to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in the opener. Knight and Jett each had RBIs and every Lady Buccaneer contributed in the thrilling 3-2 win in game two.


The Lady Bucs are now surging after taking two from a Longwood team that just upset 19th ranked Virginia Tech Wednesday night and then No. 17 Georgia last month. With the sweep, ETSU moved to 22-26 and have won six of its last eight, while the Lancers fell to 21-16 on the campaign.


Longwood squandered a three-run lead in the opener after scoring three runs in the third. The Lancers' Nichole Simmons drove in a pair of runs with her two-out single to left. Then, LU scored its third run, when Emily Radford reached on an error after junior Cat Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) had the ball pop out of her glove in right and brought home Ryan Washington from third. However, Longwood was being a little risky on the base paths and sent Simmons to the plate, but she was gunned down by Zyskowski's laser throw home for the final out of the frame.


ETSU clipped into the Lancer lead in the bottom half of the inning when Jett drove in Hardy for her first of five RBIs on the day. Hardy - who reached on a fielder's choice - advanced to second on Cheniece Cason's (Moreno Valley, Calif.) sacrifice bunt and scored on Jett's two-out single to center.


After sending the Lancers down in order in the fourth and fifth, the Lady Buccaneer bats came alive again in the bottom of the fifth. Zyskowski worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second after junior outfielder Kate Powell (Johnson City) reached on a bunt single. Hardy made the sacks full of ETSU runners after she worked a full-count walk and Cason's fielder's choice cut the Longwood margin to one, 3-2. Cason sent one back to the circle and Longwood's Rachel Mills went home on the play, but Zyskowski beat the throw after charging down the third base line for ETSU's second run of the afternoon. Once again Jett came through in the clutch on the very next at-bat. Jett hit a scorcher to short - which made Washington to go her left and instead of trying to make a force out at third she went home, but it was too late as Powell scored, tying the game at 3-3.


Hardy cruised through the seventh by having Brittany Spencer line out to short and then struck out the remaining two Lancer batters, marking her sixth and seventh strikeouts of the game. ETSU rewarded Hardy for keeping them in the game as Powell singled for her third hit to start the bottom half of the seventh. Hardy moved Powell to second on a sac bunt and the Johnson City speedster moved over to third on Cason's grounder to second. With two outs and a runner on third, Jett hit a roller to the right side and Longwood's second baseman made a play; however, her double clutch throw to first gave the Jett-ster enough time to hustle down the line for the game-winning RBI single.


Jett and Powell combined to go 6-for-7 with three RBIs and two runs scored in the game one win. Hardy improved to 12-10 win her complete game five-hitter and extended her consecutive innings streak without allowing an earned to 27.0 IP as all three runs were unearned. Mills suffered her eighth loss of the season after allowing four runs on seven hits in 6.2 IP.


The nightcap saw both pitchers hold each team scoreless through the first four and a half innings, until ETSU put a three spot on the board in the fifth. Hardy helped her cause after leading off the frame with a single to left. After Powell sacrificed Hardy over to second, senior Briana Knight came through on her day with a triple to left - scoring Hardy for the game's first run. Cason then walked and Jett's bat continued to cause havoc on the Lancer pitchers. Jett doubled home both runners as she found the gap in left-center, giving the Softball Bucs a 3-0 advantage.


In the top of the six, Longwood lowered ETSU's margin to one after plating two runs on two hits. Caitlin Hooe led off the inning with a single to left, but Hardy got Camille Ketsdever to fly out to Powell in left. After Washington walked, Hardy made an impressive web-gem as she robbed Tricia Nelson from an RBI single when she caught a bullet back to the circle. The Lancers loaded the bases and Michelle Phillips drove in two with a single; however, Hardy worked out the jam by striking out Briana Wells and left runners stranded at second and third.


The Lancers made things interesting in the seventh, but some running miscues ended a bid for any spit opportunity. Amy Betterton led off with a double to left, but was nailed out at third when she tried to advance on Brittany Matthews bunt. Sophomore catcher Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) threw a strike to junior Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) at third to get the lead runner out. However, with two outs, Longwood had the bases loaded, but Hardy forced Nelson to ground to third and Hackworth tagged the bag for the final out.


Hardy notched her 13th win after tossing her 17th complete game of the year. The reliable right-hander scattered seven hits and struck out five - moving her season total to an already program-best 178. Powell hit .750 on the day and scored two runs; while Jett mounted a .571 average (4-for-7) with a double and five RBIs.


The Softball Bucs return to the field Monday afternoon when they host Stetson in a critical conference doubleheader. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. from Metro-Kiwanis Park.


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