Pirates And Miners Split C-USA Softball Doubleheader
April 21, 2007
EL PASO, TEXAS - Making its first national television appearance of the season, the East Carolina softball team took advantage, defeating UTEP 5-0 before dropping the second contest of the doubleheader 8-3 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in El Paso. The Pirates now sit at 33-16 overall and 9-7 in conference play while UTEP moves to 27-17 and 6-10 in the conference.
With the CSTV cameras rolling, ECU jumped on the Miners 1-0 early as Jessica Johnson ripped a double off the right field wall, scoring Kaui Tom. Tom led off the game with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Charina Sumner. The Miners would load the bases with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, but Pirate starter Toni Paisley struck out Sara Hernandez to get out of the jam.
Both pitchers settled down over the next two innings, as ECU was able to manage just one hit while Paisley held UTEP hitless. The Pirates would threaten to extend their lead in the fourth, when Erin St. Ledger singled on the infield and Vanessa Moreno doubled. With ECU runners now at second and third, Joyce Roodenburg popped out and pinch-hitter Beth Nolan flied out to help the Miners escape the inning unscathed.
The Pirates would get an insurance run in the fifth when Tom, on first due to a walk, scored when Johnson reached on an error by the UTEP shortstop. With the ECU lead at 2-0, Paisley held the Miners at bay in the fifth and sixth to set the stage for Johnson in the seventh inning. With Merrida at second and Sumner at first, Johnson let loose a swing that sent the ball sailing well over the scoreboard in center field to effectively put the game away. The Miners would attempt to put some runs on the board in their last at bat, but Paisley induced a foul-out and a ground-out with the bases loaded to earn her 15th victory of the season. With the complete game shutout, her eighth this season and fourth in conference play, Paisley continues to shine in the circle. She allowed seven UTEP hits while walking three and striking out nine.
In game two, it was the Miners who would go on top first. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, Amber Bennett singled to push two runs across. ECU would load the bases in the third but game one hero Johnson grounded out to end the inning. UTEP would push its lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third on an infield single by Sara Hernandez, scoring Stacie Townsend who had walked with two outs in the inning.
The Pirates would pull within 3-2 in fourth. St. Ledger led off the inning, reaching first on catcher interference. After she was sacrificed to second by Moreno, Nolan singled to center to put St. Ledger at third. Roodenburg then grounded out, scoring St. Ledger. Cristen Aona came to the plate next and produced an infield single to place Nolan at third. Nolan reached home on the next play when Christina Merrida singled to left.
After back-to-back doubles and UTEP with a 4-2 lead and no outs in the fourth, Brooke Swann came on to relieve Keli Harrell. A single, error and two wild pitches later, the Miners found themselves on top 6-2. ECU would match that three-run output in the top of the fifth. With two outs and Sumner on first, Moreno singled to center field, advancing Sumner to third. Sumner came home after a throwing error by the UTEP third baseman. Nolan then tallied her fourth home run of the year, taking a pitch over the left center wall. The Pirates could not quite keep pace with the Miners the rest of the way, as UTEP put a run across in the fifth and sixth innings to salvage the doubleheader split.
Swann and Paisley pitched well in relief of Harrell, giving up just one earned run between them in three innings. Paisley added six strikeouts to her nine in game one, giving her 41 in her last 23 innings pitched.
ECU will look to move closer to securing a berth in the conference tournament, as the Pirates and Miners contest the rubber match of the three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.