Pirates Fall To Nation's Top Team
Feb. 15, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The East Carolina softball team wrapped up play at the Bama Bash Sunday afternoon with an 8-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama to drop its record to 4-4 this season. The contest against the Crimson Tide (8-0) marked the highest-ranked opponent East Carolina has ever faced.
The hosts wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, plating two in the bottom of the first. All-America third baseman Kelley Montalvo led off the inning with a double to left center and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Another All-America selection, Charlotte Morgan, followed with a walk to put runners on the corners. Freshman Amanda Locke followed with a short fly ball into right field that forced out Morgan at second base but drove in Montalvo, putting the Tide ahead 1-0. Lauren Parker finished the damage for Alabama in the first, as her single up the middle scored Locke.
Alabama pitcher Kelsi Dunne, a Freshman All-America selection last spring, retired the first four Pirates, three via strikeouts, before Angel Barrella worked a walk in the top of the second. After Charina Sumner's hard liner to left was caught, Sarah Bibee singled through the left side of the infield to put two runners on base with two outs. Another strikeout by Dunne, however, ended the rally and frame for ECU.
The Crimson Tide added another run in the second when Jazlyn Lunceford singled up the middle, stole second and scored as the throw from the Pirate catcher hit off a sliding Lunceford's helmet and caromed into left center field.
The Pirates displayed solid defense in the bottom of the third. Leftfielder Marina Gusman-Brown cut down the inning's leadoff batter, Cassandra Reilly-Boccia, at second base after she tried to stretch her single into a double. Toni Paisley then fanned Kellie Eubanks for the second time of the game and Tiffany Shaw threw out Parker trying to steal second base to end the inning.
ECU's Cristen Aona was hit by a pitch in the top of the fourth to give the Pirates their third base runner of the day, but she advanced no farther than first base as a strikeout and groundout ended the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Crimson Tide put the game out of reach. A walk and an error put the first two batters of the inning on the corners, and with one out later, Eubanks redeemed herself by knocking in a run with a single to put Alabama ahead 4-0. Lunceford then followed by hitting a three-run home run to right field for a 7-0 lead.
The game ended in the bottom of the sixth when Alabama used a lead off double by Whitney Larson and a run-scoring single to right field by Kendall Dawson. Despite the loss, the Pirates were the first team during Bash play not be run-ruled in five innings by the Crimson Tide.
Dunne earned the win and struck out 12 batters, the most suffered by an ECU team since last April 29 when Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher fanned 15 Pirates.
East Carolina's Kaui Tom was the Pirates' only representative on the all-tournament team.
The Pirates now have nearly a full week off before playing at the Seminole Classic in Tallahassee, Fla., next weekend. East Carolina opens tourney play by facing Michigan and Florida State, both 2008 NCAA Regional participants, on Saturday.