Bucs bounce back with sweep over Belmont
Bucs bounce back with sweep over Belmont
Sunday, March 27, 2011

Duncan, Wolff combine for shutout in game one; Baird, Garner attack Bruins' pitching staff in nightcap

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 26, 2011) - After being dealt a pair of losses in the conference opener Friday against Lipscomb, the ETSU softball team bounced back in a big way as the Bucs swept in-state rival Belmont on a cool and cloudy Saturday afternoon inside Betty Basler Field.  

Senior right-hander Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and freshman hurler Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) combined for a three-hit shutout, and the Bucs blanked Belmont, 2-0, in the opener of the conference twinbill. In game two, the Buccaneer offense exploded for four runs in the first and capped off the game-shortened affair by plating three runs in the fourth and fifth innings en route to capturing a 10-2 five-inning victory.  

Freshman Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and sophomore Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) were clutch for the Blue and Gold in the game two win. Baird went 2-for-3 with a double, triple and three RBI, while Garner - who ended the game with a RBI single to left in the fifth - went 2-for-2 with a walk, two-run homer and three RBI. As a team, the Bucs hit .317 (13-41) with four doubles, two triples and a home run, while ETSU's pitching staff held Belmont to eight hits in 43 at-bats (.186) in the two games.

With the sweep, ETSU has now won 11 of the 12 games in the series, and the Bucs improved to 13-17, 2-2. Belmont saw its record dip to 7-22, 0-4.

Game One Recap

Jessica Duncan earned the win and Katie Wolff picked up her second save of the season as the dominate duo combined for a three-hit shutout in the 2-0 victory over Belmont.

Duncan - who allowed three hits in six innings of work - improved to 6-7 on the season after keeping the Bruins scoreless. Wolff tossed one inning of relief and kept the win in line for Duncan as she recorded the final three outs in the circle.

ETSU's offense only mustered four hits off Devon Schmidt, but the Bucs capitalized on a costly error by catcher Hannah Irwin in the third as her throwing miscue led to the first run of the game. Marlina Delisa's (Tucson, Ariz.) fielder's choice sac-bunt later in the inning scored Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) from third, resulting in the only two runs of the contest.

Prior to the third inning the Bruins threatened in the second, but with one out and the bases loaded, Duncan forced Amanda Buntin to hit into a fielder's choice and MJ Lawson popped up to second to end the inning, keeping the game scoreless.

The Bucs put two runners on in the bottom of the second, but with one out and Arielle Garner at the plate, Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) was caught stealing and Garner struck out swinging to end any scoring threat.

However, the Blue and Gold made up for the mistakes the very next inning as Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) led off the third with a double to right-center and Hensley scored on the throwing error by Irwin after she tried to gun Fox out at second on the steal. After Fox moved over to third, Delisa laid down the bunt - and after Schmidt went home on the play - Fox slid in safely to make it a 2-0 ballgame.

Despite being held to only one hit in the final three innings, the Buccaneer pitching staff and defense made sure the two runs were enough to hold up for the win.

Belmont left a runner stranded in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Bruins made things interesting in the seventh. After Kelley Cash led off the inning with a single to right, Wolff replaced Duncan in the circle and the LaGrange, Texas native worked out a jam to pick up the save. Wolff walked the first batter she faced, but then she forced MJ Lawson to foul out to Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) behind the plate and got Cassie Bollin to ground out to second. With both runners moving into scoring position on the grounder, Wolff kept the runners stranded when third baseman Jackie Baird robbed Irwin of a potential game-tying hit as she stretched out for an epic game-ending grab.

Despite allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits, Schmidt suffered the loss as her record dropped to 6-9.  

Game Two Recap

With the rain starting to fall in the fifth inning, the Bucs wasted little time ending the game early as the Blue and Gold scored three runs in the bottom of the frame, lifting ETSU to a 10-2 victory and a sweep over Belmont.

Jackie Baird and Arielle Garner combined to hit for the cycle as Baird recorded a double and triple, and Garner posted a home run and game-ending single. In total, six of ETSU's nine hits went for extra-bases in the eight-run victory.

Junior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) was rewarded with the offensive attack as she went the distance to earn her sixth win of the season. Morris allowed two runs on five hits and struck out three in five innings of work.

The Bucs struck early as the Blue and Gold scored four runs on three hits in the bottom of the first to take a 4-0 lead. Marlina Delisa worked a one-out walk and she advanced to third when Katie Henderson ripped a double to right, placing runners in scoring position. Jackie Baird drove both runners home when she laced a double to left, giving ETSU the two-run advantage. After Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) moved Baird over to third on a ground out, Baird was able to trot home when Garner ripped a two-run home run over the fence in left-center - giving the Bucs the four-run cushion.

Belmont put runners on the corners with two outs in the second, but Henderson gunned Amanda Buntin out from behind the plate at second for the final out of the inning.

The Bruins finally scored their first run of the afternoon when Ashley Byers led off the fourth inning with a solo homer to left-center and Belmont tacked on another run in the frame when pinch hitter Ashley Smith drove in Ashley Hammer with two outs and the bases loaded. However, with Belmont slowly gaining confidence, Morris struck Mia Vierra out looking to end the inning. 

ETSU got the two runs back and one additional score in the bottom of the fourth to extend its lead to, 7-2. After Garner led off the inning with a walk, pinch runner Sadè Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga.) moved to third when Whitley Hensley belted a double to left-center, placing runners on second and third with no outs. From there the flood gates opened, as Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) laid down a perfect bunt for a single to score Johnson from third. Hartnett's awareness on the play paid off as she made the move to second - and as centerfielder Kelley Cash came in on the play - she fired to third to get Hensley out, but her throw was off line leading to Hensley scoring the sixth run of the contest. Mikayla Treadway (Unicoi, Tenn.) capped off the scoring spree when her RBI ground out to second scored Hartnett - putting the Bucs up 7-2.

As the rain started falling from the sky in the fifth, the Bucs scored three more runs in the bottom of the inning to make it a 10-2 victory. The Bruins were unable to record an out in the inning as Henderson led things off with a walk and she quickly scored on Baird's RBI triple to right. Just as Baird did, Campbell followed suit by smashing a three-bagger of her own down the line in right, and Campbell scored the game-ending run when Garner hit a single to left.

Both Garner and Henderson reached base safely in all three plate appearances as Henderson went 1-for-1 with two walks.

Vierra was tagged with the loss (1-7) after being roughed up for six runs on four hits in three innings of action.

The Bucs continue their 14-game homestand when ETSU hosts Appalachian State on Wednesday evening. First pitch of the doubleheader is slated for 5 p.m. from the friendly confines of Betty Basler Field.

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