CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 10, 2023) – After taking an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, the ETSU softball team couldn’t hold on, as the No. 7 seed Buccaneers fell to No. 2 seed Samford, 4-2 in the Southern Conference Championship on Wednesday afternoon at Frost Stadium in Chattanooga.
With the loss, ETSU dropped to 15-36 overall, while Samford improved to 24-29.
The Bucs will now play in an elimination game against either No. 3 seed Furman or No. 6 seed Chattanooga Thursday morning at 10 o’clock. Samford will play the winner of the Furman/Chattanooga game Thursday at 3 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENDED
The Bucs jumped out to the early 2-0 lead by plating two runs in the top of the first inning. After Kemiah Michel (Gallatin, Tenn.) recorded her 36th hit of the year with a single to left field and advanced to second on Sara Muir’s (Sequatchie, Tenn.) infield single, Riley Nayadley (Ooltewah, Tenn.) came through with the key base knock. With two on and only one out, Nayadley laced her fourth double of the season to center field – driving in her 23rd and 24th runs of the season – giving Brianna Bailey (Wewahitchka, Fla.) a two-run cushion before even taking the circle.
However, the lead was quickly erased as Samford pushed across a pair of runs in the bottom half of the first to pull even at 2-2. After the first two Bulldog hitters reached via a walk and then an infield single, Logan Champion moved the runners into scoring position by laying down a sac bunt. In the next at-bat, the Bulldogs scored a pair of runs as Grier Bruce hit a two-RBI double, which tied up the game.
With the Bucs being sent down in order in the top of the second, Samford took its first lead of the day as the Bulldogs scored two more runs in the home half of the inning, making it a 4-2 score. Samford put its first runner on base on a one-out walk to Axx Yantis – and after advancing to second on a sac bunt – Sarah Squillace drove in the eventual winning run with an RBI-double to take the lead. On the next at bat, McKayla Cothran hit an RBI-single off the ninth pitch from Bailey to give Samford the 4-2 advantage.
Both teams were held scoreless for the final four-plus innings and Samford secured the two-run victory.
The Bucs had a runner on in the fourth but squandered a leadoff single by Nayadley, while Cameron Young (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Michel both generated two-out singles in the fifth but Muir hit into an inning-ending ground out to short, which ended the scoring threat.
Bailey closed out the game allowing just one hit through the final four innings of the contest.
PITCHERS OF RECORD
ETSU: Brianna Bailey (12-11) – loss.
Samford: McKenzie Newcomb (13-10) – win.
The Blue & Gold will take on the loser of Furman and Chattanooga tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. at Frost Stadium.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the softball tab.