Pirates Fall To BYU In Regional Final
May 22, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas – The East Carolina softball team took a 2-0 lead Saturday but could not hold on as BYU used a six-run fifth inning to come back and claim an 8-3 victory and the Austin Regional Championship. Senior Marina Gusman-Brown and junior Sissy Jimenez drove in runs for the Pirates (44-18).
BYU (46-11) will make its first NCAA Super Regional appearance in program history next weekend against the winner of the Tucson Regional. The Cougars’ J.C. Clayton picked up four hits to pace the 17-hit attack and Jessica Purcell-Fitu drove in two runs.
Junior Toni Paisley (31-11) took the loss as she went four-and-two-thirds innings, allowing seven runs on 12 hits and a walk. She also struck out one to finish 2010 with an ECU-record 356 whiffs. Despite the setback, Paisley’s 31 victories are the fourth most in single-season Pirate history. Sophomore Faith Sutton threw the final two-and-a-third frames, allowing one run on five hits while fanning two.
Paige Affleck (32-8) picked up the victory as she scattered nine hits and gave up three runs. She issued three walks and struck out four.
The Pirates had the first scoring opportunity of the game. With two down in the bottom of the first, senior Vanessa Moreno singled to left field before Gusman-Brown drew a walk to put runners on first and second. A strikeout looking kept the Pirates off the board.
In the top of the second, BYU’s Andrea Ramirez led off with a single to right field but Caschjen Davis-Atagi popped into a double play as her bunt attempt was caught by first baseman Jimenez, who doubled Ramirez off first base.
The Cougars loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third, but could not push across a run. Jessica Dugas reached on a one-out fielding error by Jimenez, who could not handle the throw to first from senior Cristen Aona at third base. Kristin Delahoussaye followed with a single into right field, just out of reach of a diving Moreno. With runners on first and second with one down, Clayton singled off the glove of Aona at third to load the bases. Paisley retired BYU’s top two hitters in Angeline Quiocho and Ramirez on infield pop-outs to end the threat.
After escaping the jam, the Pirates scored two in the bottom of the inning to take a 2-0 lead. Senior Charina Sumner led off with an infield single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Christina Merrida and to third on a groundout by Moreno. Gusman-Brown then hit an infield single to the third baseman that drove in Sumner for the first run. Following a Gusman-Brown steal of second base, Jimenez dropped a base hit into center field that plated Gusman-Brown. A groundout closed the frame.
BYU answered with its first run in the top of the fourth to make it a 2-1 Pirate lead. Davis-Atagi was hit by a pitch to open the frame. Purcell-Fitu followed with a ground ball to Sumner at second base. Sumner fielded the ball but the throw went wide of Jimenez at first, allowing Davis-Atagi to advance to third and Purcell-Fitu to second. A pair of pop-outs by Delaney Willard and Amanda Vance-Kellum left the runners on second and third with two outs. Dugas came through with a two-out infield single that drove in Davis-Atagi. Delahoussaye ended the inning with a fly-out to right field.
The Cougars completed the comeback with a six-run top of the fifth to take a 7-2 lead. Clayton led off with an infield single off the glove of a jumping Sumner and Quiocho beat out a grounder to Aona. Following a foul-out to Gusman-Brown by Ramirez, Davis-Atagi drew a walk to fill the bases. A Purcell-Fitu double drove in two before back-to-back, one-run singles by Willard and Vance-Kellum drove in the third and fourth runs of the inning. Delahoussaye plated the fifth run with a foul-out sacrifice fly to Sumner down the right-field line. Clayton singled to third base to drive in the frame's final run. Sutton entered and struck out Quiocho to end the inning.
The Pirates put a runner on in the fifth on a Sumner double and in the sixth with an Aona single to right field, but could not rally.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Clayton beat out an infield single and scored on a Quiocho triple to center field to make it an 8-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the frame, the Pirates scored the game’s final run. ECU loaded the bases with no outs on a single to right field by senior pinch hitter Nicole Jordan, a Sumner walk and a Merrida single off the glove of Quiocho at third base. A fielder’s choice by Moreno forced out Jordan at home before a fielder’s choice by Gusman-Brown retired Moreno at second but drove in Sumner. A Jimenez groundout ended the contest.
East Carolina finished the season with 44 wins, the program’s highest total since recording 55 in 2005. The Pirates also captured their first Conference USA regular season and tournament titles.