Hardy helps Lady Bucs survive scare, as ETSU knocks off Virginia Intermont, 2-0
Friday, April 17, 2009

Hardy hits game-winner and posts a season-high 11 strikeouts


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 17, 2009) - Junior Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) put the Lady Buccaneer softball team on her back Friday night and helped carry ETSU past Virginia Intermont, 2-0, inside the ETSU Softball Complex.


Hardy, who tossed her career and school-record tying fifth shutout of the season, also had the game-winning hit as her RBI single to right in the bottom of the sixth cracked a scoreless game and plated Chelsea O'Connor (Knoxville, Tenn.) from second. The Rocklin, Calif. native fanned a season-high 11 hitters and allowed four hits en route to her 14th victory of the season.


With the victory, ETSU improved its record to 24-19 on the year, and the Lady Bucs now set up a critical conference showdown with Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon in Johnson City. The Dolphins were swept by USC Upstate on Friday evening, and should the Lady Bucs hand Jacksonville a pair of losses, ETSU will secure its fourth straight trip to the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament next month. Virginia Intermont, whose assistant coach is former Lady Buccaneer standout Amanda Haverman, saw its mark dip to 16-19.


Hardy was dealing early and often and also did an excellent job working out of a no-out bases loaded jam in the fifth. After striking out six of the first 12 Lady Cobra hitters she faced, Hardy put herself in a pickle in the fifth. The junior righty issued a leadoff walk to Haley Odle and after back-to-back singles Virginia Intermont posed its first threat of the game. Fortunately, Hardy settled in and got the next three Lady Cobra hitters to chase some nasty pitches to work out of the pressure situation.


Finally, after being held to only three hits in the first five innings, ETSU came to life in the sixth. O'Connor began the fun with a one-out bunt single back to the circle and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Kristen Dyer - who entered in relief in the fifth. Then, with O'Connor on second and one out, Hardy was called upon to pinch hit and her bat did the trick when she laced an RBI single to right - which was just deep enough to score O'Connor from second. Virginia Intermont's right fielder, Katie Bowles, threw a strike to the plate, but the freshman infielder touched the dish before Odle had a chance to put a tag down at home - giving the Lady Bucs a 1-0 lead. After Hardy advanced to second on the throw, senior Cat Zyskowski (Grand Rapids, Mich.) re-entered to run and eventually came around to score on a throwing error by Odle - which put ETSU ahead 2-0.


Hardy worked a perfect seventh inning and carried the Lady Bucs to a two-run win.


Virginia Intermont's starting pitcher, Megan Branson, did an excellent job shutting down the Lady Buccaneer hitters. Branson tossed four shutout innings and limited ETSU to only three hits. Dyer suffered the loss after she was tagged for two runs (one earned) on three hits in two innings of work.


Junior Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) extended her hitting streak to six straight games with her single in the third, while sophomore Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) worked two walks in her only plate appearances.


The Lady Bucs will quickly return to the diamond on Saturday afternoon when they host Jacksonville at 2 and 4 p.m. at the ETSU Softball Complex.


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