Cason's walk-off single sends Lady Bucs home with a split over Appalachian State
Wednesday, April 1, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 1, 2009) - With the Lady Bucs in search of a much-needed win, the "California Girls" of Cheniece Cason (Moreno Valley, Calif.) and Marissa Hardy (Rocklin, Calif.) delivered in a big way Wednesday night inside the ETSU Softball Complex.


After Appalachian State rallied from a two-run deficit in game one and handed ETSU its fifth straight loss, 3-2, the junior duo of Cason and Hardy stepped up and carried the Lady Bucs to a thrilling 1-0 victory in the nightcap.


Hardy was exceptional in the circle as she tossed her fourth shutout of the season and Cason's two-out infield single scored freshman outfielder Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.) - giving the Lady Bucs the walk-off win.


With the split, ETSU moved its mark to 19-14, and the Lady Bucs now have two days off before hosting North Carolina Central on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers saw their record dip to 16-18 on the season.


Hardy was dealing the entire game as she only faced two over the minimum through the first five innings of work. A walk to Meagan Squartino in the second and a free pass to Michelle Lighton in the fourth were the only minor errors by Hardy. Sarah Rappe broke up the no-hit bid with two outs in the third, but she was quickly sent back to the bench after junior catcher Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) gunned her down at second when she tried to steal.


Appalachian State's Kayla Richardson was also doing a solid job keeping the Lady Bucs scoreless, as ETSU left multiple runners stranded in the first and third innings. Then, the Mountaineers threatened in the sixth, when they placed their first base runner on second base after Rappe reached on an infield single to the catcher and advanced to second on Massenzo's throwing error to first. However, with out and the runner on second, leftfielder Kate Powell (Johnson City) kept the game scoreless when she made two great grabs to end the inning.


After the Lady Bucs were held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth and Hardy kept Appalachian State off the board in the top of the seventh; ETSU came to life in the final frame. Pinch hitter Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) began the fun-filled inning with a one-out single to short - and after Martin re-entered to run for Henderson - she advanced to second on Vicki McCoy's (Ringgold, Ga.) single to center. Then after both runners moved up a base on Chelsea O'Connor's (Knoxville) grounder to third, Cason came through with the clutch two-out walk-off single - which plopped right over the pitchers head between the circle and second base - giving the Lady Bucs the one-run victory.


Hardy, who tossed the two-hit shutout, moved her record to 10-5 on the season and has now tossed 12.2 scoreless IP (dating back to the last two innings of the Virginia Tech game on Tuesday night). The Rocklin, Calif. native also struck out five Mountaineer hitters. Richardson suffered the loss (8-10) after allowing the one run on five hits in 6.2 innings of work.


Massenzo kept her streak of reaching base in all 13 home games alive with her walk in the first inning; while Cason recorded her first RBI at home since driving in a run against Milligan on Feb. 21.


Game One Recap   

The Lady Bucs grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the first inning but the Mountaineers rallied back, and Ashley Gaston's solo home run in the top of the fourth proved to be the game winner as Appalachian State hung on to the 3-2 victory.


ETSU took advantage to two Mountaineer errors in the bottom half of the first inning and took the 2-0 lead. Kate Powell, who reached on a one-out bunt single, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Michelle Lighton. Then after Trisha Massenzo walked, Kala Tipton entered as a pinch runner and stole second. With out and runners in scoring position, Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) brought home Powell on a sacrifice fly to right - and when Brittany Gaston's throw home was off mark - Tipton was able to come around third and score the second Lady Buccaneer run of the inning.


Unfortunately, the lead wouldn't hold up as Appalachian State used the long ball to its advantage.


After the Mountaineers cut the deficit in half with Gaston's RBI single to center in the second, the Mountaineers received a solo homer from Katie Boyd in the third and Ashley Gaston's solo bomb in the fourth put the visitors ahead for good, 3-2.


The Lady Bucs didn't go down without a fight, but again Ashley Gaston proved to be a thorn in ETSU's side, as she made back-to-back web gems to end the game in the seventh. Annie Martin began the inning with a single to center and McCoy moved her over to second with a successful sac bunt. However, with one out and Martin in scoring position, Chelsea O'Connor and Cheniece Cason were robbed of hits when Gaston made two great plays in left to end any comeback.


Ashley Stubbs picked up her seventh win of the season after tossing a complete game winner. Stubbs allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, while striking out three and walking two. Meanwhile, sophomore right-hander Ashley Boyd (Chattanooga, Tenn.) saw her record fall to 1-4 after allowing three runs on six hits in 3.1 innings of work. Marissa Hardy entered in relief and kept the Lady Bucs in the contest by tossing 3.2 scoreless innings of three-hit ball.


The Lady Bucs return to action on Saturday afternoon when they host North Carolina Central at 2 p.m. inside the ETSU Softball Complex.


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