Softball Falls Twice Friday At Diamond Devil Invitational

UABSPORTS.COM Junior Kai Clark hit her first home run of the season Friday against Pacific.
Junior Kai Clark hit her first home run of the season Friday against Pacific.

March 10, 2012

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TEMPE, Ariz. - East Carolina dropped its two Friday games at the Diamond Devil Invitational, falling to Pacific 6-3 and No. 5 Arizona State 9-1 in six innings. In the opener, Pacific's Nicole Matson drove in three runs and hit a two-run home run to power the Tigers (12-8) to the victory. For the Sun Devils (23-2), Annie Lockwood tallied four hits, Lucy Aubrecht added a career-high three and Alix Johnson hit a two-run home run to lift the Sun Devils to the victory, which dropped ECU to 8-12 this season.

During the first game, freshman Sarah Christian (6-6) tossed the first two-and-a-third innings. She allowed four runs on six hits and a walk. Classmate Courtney Smith entered for the remaining three-and-two-thirds, surrendering a pair of unearned runs on two hits and two walks. She also matched her career best with three strikeouts. Tori Shepard (3-3) went the distance for the Tigers, scattering six hits and not allowing a run until the seventh inning. She did not issue a walk and struck out one.

In the second contest, Smith (2-6) took the loss after throwing one-and-two-thirds and allowing eight runs on 11 hits and a trio of walks. Christian tossed the remaining three-and-a-third frames and gave up one run on six hits and two free passes. ASU's Mackenzie Popescue (5-1) allowed one unearned run on four hits and four strikeouts in the complete-game effort.

In the opener, the Pirates threatened in the top of the first but could not push a run across. Sophomore Jill Jelnick singled to left center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Kristi Oshiro. A groundout and fly out to center field, however, ended the inning.

The Tigers broke through first and took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Amy Moore led off with a walk and went to third on a single to right field by Megan Foglesong. Alexa Rivera flew out to center and Foglesong took second on the throw toward the plate. A single up the middle by Taylor Petty plated Moore and moved Foglesong to third base. Christian retired Megan Allen on a fly out to right, but Megan Hom shot a ball through the right side to drive in Foglesong for the two-run advantage. A pop out to sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin closed the frame.

Pacific added two more runs in the bottom of the third to make it a 4-0 advantage. After a leadoff single by Nikki Armagost, Matson sent a 3-2 pitch over the wall in center field.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tigers tacked on one more run for a 5-0 lead. Smith recorded a strikeout to start the frame, but a single up the middle and back-to-back fielder's choices loaded the bases with one down. Armagost collected a run-scoring groundout before an intentional walk to Matson refilled the bases with two outs. Smith bounced back with a Moore groundout to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin to leave the bases full.

East Carolina put together a threat in the top of the fifth, but again failed to score. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins reached on a one-out single and moved to second on a groundout. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, but a groundout by Jelnick ended the threat.

Pacific scored its last run in the bottom of the sixth for a 6-0 edge. Hom led off with a single, moved to second on a fielder's choice, advanced to third on another fielder's choice and scored on a groundout to the shortstop.

ECU mounted a rally in the seventh, scoring three times, but could not force a tie. Senior Suzanne Riggs and sophomore Jordan Lewis started the frame with back-to-back singles. A fielder's choice by Robbins forced out Lewis at second base and left runners on the corners with one down. Clark followed with her first home run of the season to make it a three-run game. Shepard rebounded to record a groundout and fly out to end the game and seal the Tiger victory.

In game two, Arizona State jumped on the Pirates for four runs in the bottom of the first as Johnson hit a two-run homer to right center and Talor Haro hit a two-out, two-run single up the middle.

The Sun Devils added four more runs in the bottom of the second for an eight-run lead. Johnson led off with a walk and moved to third on a single to right field by Lockwood. A walk to Elizabeth Caporuscio filled the bases. An RBI-fielder's choice by Sam Parlich and an Aubrecht single up the middle that drove in Lockwood made it a 6-0 advantage. With two outs and the bases loaded, Bailey Wigness and Katelyn Boyd hit consecutive run-scoring singles. Christian entered for Smith and retired Johnson on a groundout to end the frame.

East Carolina scored its run in the top of the third on a two-out single to right center by Riggs. Clark led off with a single up the middle, but was erased on a fielder's choice by Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. Jelnick followed with a grounder to Boyd at shortstop, but second baseman Parlich dropped the ball on Boyd's toss, allowing Jelnick and Kaluhiokalani-Glackin to be safe. A fielder's choice by sophomore Alex Fieldhouse left runners on the corners with two outs. Riggs followed with a single to right center that drove in Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, but Riggs was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double for the final out of the inning.

Neither team managed to push across another run until the bottom of the sixth, when Arizona State scored to end the game due to the eight-run rule. Three-straight singles by pinch hitter Nikole Afusia, Wigness and Boyd plated the contest-ending run before an out was recorded.

East Carolina returns to action Saturday afternoon with games against Creighton (8-9) and New Mexico State (15-10). The contest against the Blue Jays is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. ET while first pitch with the Aggies will be at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET.

Post-Game Notes
-- Sophomore Kai Clark's home run was her first since March 27, 2011, against Tulsa.
-- Clark did not have a run batted in this season until her three-run home run.
-- Sophomore Jill Jelnick has a hit in seven of the last nine games.
-- Sophomore Alex Fieldhouse has been nearly as impressive, collecting at least one hit in five of the last seven contests.
-- The Pirates have hit four home runs in their last eight games after going without a long ball for seven consecutive contests.
-- East Carolina dropped its initial game against Pacific and is now 1-2 in first-time meetings this season and 23-17 since 2006 in such contests.
-- ECU has lost eight of its last nine games, three to teams ranked in the top 12.