Softball Gains Split In Alabama
Feb. 24, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The East Carolina softball team split its two games Friday at the Easton Bama Bash, topping SIU Edwardsville 6-5 in 10 innings before falling to No. 2 Alabama 4-2. A bases-loaded walk by sophomore Alex Fieldhouse plated the winning run in the opening contest, as the Pirates (6-4) came back for the win after allowing the Cougars (5-5) to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. In game two, Lauren Sewell limited the Pirates to two hits and four players each tallied a run scored and RBI for the 9-0 Crimson Tide.
In the circle against SIUE, freshman Sarah Christian threw the first nine innings to earn the victory and improve to 5-1. She allowed 12 hits and two walks while surrendering three earned runs. It was the longest outing of her young career. Classmate Courtney Smith came in for the final frame and retired the Cougars in order to earn her second save of the year. She is the first East Carolina rookie with two or more saves since Keli Harrell tallied three in 2005. The Cougars' Lindsey Coleman was saddled with her first loss of the season after three wins. She pitched all 10 innings, scattering six hits and five walks to go along with four earned runs and a trio of strikeouts.
During game two, Smith (1-3) got the start and lasted four innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and two walks. She also fanned one. Christian came in for two frames and allowed a run on three hits. Sewell (1-0) did not issue a hit until the sixth, but scattered six walks and struck out four. The junior improved to 16-1 in her career. Amanda Locke pitched a perfect seventh to earn her first save of the season.
Versus the Cougars in the opening game, East Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first by being aggressive on the bases. Sophomore Kristi Oshiro led off with a single down the left-field line. Classmate Jill Jelnick followed with a bunt that SIUE third baseman Alex McDavid fielded, but threw over the head of first baseman Kam Smallwood, allowing runners to be safe on the corners. On the initial pitch of sophomore Rebecca Lee's at bat, Jelnick took off for second and Cougar catcher Samantha Stanicek's throw was late, allowing Jelnick to be safe and Oshiro to come home on the double steal. A strikeout, groundout and lineout allowed Coleman to escape without further damage.
SIU Edwardsville knotted the score in the bottom of the third. Lindsey Barron led off with her second infield single of the game and moved to second on a groundout. McDavid followed with a ground ball that Oshiro had roll through her legs, allowing Barron to score. A pop out and foul out ended the Cougar half inning.
ECU immediately retook the lead in the top of the fourth with a pair of runs. Fieldhouse got the offense going with a double to the gap in right center and went to third as sophomore Jasmine Robbins picked up her first hit of the game on a single to left. With runners on the corners again, the Pirates executed their second double steal of the contest to go ahead 2-1. Robbins broke for second, Stanicek's throw was late and Fieldhouse slid around the tag at the plate on the return toss from second. A single up the middle by senior Suzanne Riggs drove in Robbins from second and made it a 3-1 advantage. Coleman again regrouped and ended the inning by inducing a pair of groundouts and a strikeout.
SIU Edwardsville responded in the bottom of the fifth, scoring once to make it a 3-2 contest. Jill Rackers started the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a groundout by Barron. After another groundout, McDavid singled through the left side to put runners on the corners. A single to right field by Rachel Coonrod plated Rackers and made it a one-run game. Christian retired Stanicek at first on a groundout to end the threat and strand runners on the corners.
Fieldhouse helped the Pirates score again in the top of the sixth and regain the two-run lead as she led off with her first career triple. After a pop out, Riggs delivered again with a sacrifice fly to left center to plate Fieldhouse. A groundout ended the inning and kept the East Carolina lead at 4-2.
After Coleman sent down ECU in order in the top of the seventh, SIUE tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the frame. Barron led off with a single up the middle and Chelsea Yankolovich followed with an infield single to put runners on first and second. McDavid grounded out to move both runners up a base and the two came home on a double to the gap in right center by Coonrod. Pinch hitter Kayla Riggs was hit by a pitch, but Taylor Tooley popped out to shallow right center. With runners on the corners and two outs, Brittany Toney popped out to Christian in the circle to end the threat.
Starting in the eighth, each team had a runner placed on second base due to the international tie breaker rule. East Carolina failed to push across a run in the top of the eighth and SIU Edwardsville left the bases loaded in its half of the eighth as McDavid popped out to Christian in the circle to end the theat.
Each team scored in the ninth as Pirate sophomore Jordan Lewis drove in Robbins with a groundout and Stanicek plated McDavid with a single to left field. In the top of the 10th, Oshiro and Jelnick drew walks to fill the bases. After a fielder's choice, Fieldhouse followed with another free pass to force in a run and give ECU a 6-5 advantage. Coleman kept it a one-run game on two more fielder's choices that ended the frame. The last was a diving stop by Yankolovich at shortstop, knocking the ball down and throwing to third for the final out of the frame.
Smith came in for the 10th and earned the save by stranding Brianna Fulginiti at third. Smallwood moved Fulginiti to third with a sacrifice bunt, but Rackers and Barron grounded out to end the game.
In game two, Alabama jumped on the Pirates for a run in the bottom of the first. Kayla Braud led off the Crimson Tide first with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by Pirate catcher Kai Clark. After a pop out to Riggs in left, Cassie Reilly-Boccia doubled to the gap in right center to drive in Braud. Smith retired the next two batters on a strikeout and fly out to end the threat.
Alabama tacked on another run in the second for a 2-0 edge. Kaila Hunt singled and Courtney Conley followed with a double to right center to put runners on second and third with no outs. A groundout by Olivia Gibson plated Hunt, but Smith recovered again with a pop out and fly out to close the frame.
East Carolina mounted its first scoring threat in the top of the fourth and loaded the bases, but could not push across a run. Lee led off with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Oshiro. Riggs followed with another free pass to put runners on first and second with one down. Sewell retired Fieldhouse on a pop out to left field, but walked Robbins to load the bases with two outs. Senior Priscilla Velasquez worked a full count, but grounded out to Sewell to end the half inning.
After the defensive hold, the Crimson Tide scored to take a 3-0 lead. Conley led off with a single to left, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Gibson and scored on a single to left by Jackey Branham. Infield singles by Braud and Jennifer Fenton loaded the bases with one out, but Reilly-Boccia grounded into an inning-ending double play to keep it a three-run contest.
The Pirates had another opportunity in the top of the fifth, but were again held off the board. Lewis reached on a fielding error by Sewell and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, but a strikeout and fly out to left center ended the threat.
ECU broke through for two runs in the top of the sixth to make it a 3-2 game. A leadoff double to right center by Oshiro provided the Pirates with their first hit of the game. Riggs drew her second-straight walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a strikeout, Robbins picked up another free pass to load the bases. Velasquez came up and hit a liner off Sewell's glove that bounced to Branham at second and she threw to first to retire Velasquez, but Oshiro came home on the play. Lewis delivered another run on a single through the left side that drove in Riggs. Sewell avoided further damage by catching an inning-ending pop up in the circle.
In the bottom of the inning, the Crimson Tide got a run back to make the 4-2 final. Conley led off with her third hit of the contest and was replaced by pinch runner Keima Davis. A sacrifice bunt by Gibson moved Davis to second and she went to third on a single to right center by Branham. Braun laid down a bunt single and Davis came home on the play for a 4-2 edge. A pair of groundouts followed and closed the inning.
Locke came in for the seventh and retired the Pirates in order to seal the victory.
East Carolina resumes play at the Easton Bama Bash Saturday afternoon playing the same two teams in the same order. The Pirates face the Cougars at 12:00 p.m. and the Tide at 2:30.