Hackworth's slam lifts ETSU to a season-opening split over Furman
Saturday, February 9, 2008

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Feb. 9, 2008) - Junior Jessie Hackworth's (Clinton, Tenn.) grand slam in the top of the seventh lifted the ETSU softball team to a 7-0 victory over Furman in game one; however, the Lady Paladins spoiled the Lady Buccaneers' chances of pulling off a sweep for the second straight season as they rallied past ETSU, 5-3, in the nightcap Saturday afternoon at Pepsi Stadium.


Despite leaving 10 runners stranded in game one, ETSU managed to catch some breaks and defeat the reigning SoCon tournament champions. The Lady Bucs received a solid outing from ace Darci Gilbert (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and key hitting from Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.), Vicki McCoy (Ringgold, Ga.) and Hackworth.


Gilbert scattered five hits and struck out four as she went the distance, marking her third career shutout. The hitting trio combined to go 5-for-11, with two homers, three runs scored and six RBI. Hackworth drove in four and Massenzo batted in two.


In game one, Gilbert worked out of second and third inning jams. After retiring the first four hitters she faced, Gilbert walked Blythe Blakenship and had pitcher Lana Mackey reach on fielder's choice. Mackey advanced to second on a passed ball, but was gunned down at the plate by junior Caitlin Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) as she tried to score on Kate Termini's single to left. In the third, Furman left runners on second and third, but Gilbert got Stephanie Cushing to pop out to short for the final out of the inning.


The Lady Bucs missed a golden opportunity to push runs across the plate in their top half of the third. ETSU had the bases loaded with one out and two of its power hitters coming to the plate, but Furman's Lana Mackey forced Katy Jett (Talbot, Tenn.) to ground into a fielder's choice and struck out senior Amanda Haverman (Kirkwood, Mo.) to end any threat.


Then, two innings later, ETSU played some small ball and ended the stalemate. Junior newcomer (Vicki) McCoy led off the fifth with a single back to the pitcher and quickly stole second. Sophomore Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) advanced McCoy to third when she reached on an infield single. Like McCoy, Cason also showcased her blazing speed by stealing second. Finally, the Lady Buccaneers capitalized on one of Mackey's miscues as McCoy scored the game's first run on a wild pitch.


After leaving runners on the corners in the sixth, ETSU posted some insurance runs thanks to the help of sluggers Hackworth and Massenzo. Hackworth made the Lady Bucs' first home run of the campaign a memorable one as belted a grand slam over the left-center wall. It marked the second straight season Hackworth opened the year with a grand slam against the Lady Paladins. Then, after Zyskowski walked, Massenzo joined in on the fun by having one fly out of Pepsi Stadium, putting ETSU up 7-0.


Gilbert finished an easy seventh for the win, while Mackey suffered the loss as she was tagged for seven runs (all earned) on 10 hits in 7.0 IP.


ETSU jumped out to a quick three-run lead in game two, but Furman plated two runs in the fourth and tacked the go-ahead run across the plate in the sixth for the come from behind victory.


In the second, Hackworth reached on an error and eventually came around to score the game's first run on a Massenzo RBI single to left. Then, back-to-back RBI singles from senior Briana Knight (Brier, Wash.) and McCoy scored Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) and Massenzo, giving ETSU the early 3-0 advantage.


Furman cut the Lady Buccaneer lead to one, 3-2, when they received doubles from Abby Robertson and Mackey. Robertson led off the inning with a shot to center and came around to score on Mackey's double to left-center. Mackey scored the second run on a (Marissa) Hardy wild pitch.


Once again doubles crushed ETSU in the sixth as Lady Paladins picked up consecutive shots from Termini and Mackey, putting Furman ahead 4-3. The host team tacked an extra run across the plate for the two-run victory.


ETSU never answered the Furman pitching staff as the Lady Bucs were held to only two hits after the second inning.


Hardy suffered the loss after tossing all six innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits. After being handed the loss in the first game, Mackey came back and tossed four innings of one-hit ball to even her recorded at 1-1.


The Lady Bucs will now being a stretch of playing in four consecutive tournaments, beginning next weekend with the Cox Communications Classic in Gainesville, Fla. ETSU kicks off the five-game three-day tournament with ACC foe North Carolina on Friday at 9 a.m.


For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.