March 3, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina (7-8) wraps up play at the DeMarini Invitational Sunday with contests against Indiana (8-10) and No. 11 Stanford (16-3). First pitch against the Hoosiers is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. with the clash against the Cardinal taking place 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
The Pirates dropped both contests Saturday, falling to No. 2 Cal 11-3 in five innings and Northwestern 4-2.
The Pirates Taking On The Hoosiers
East Carolina and Indiana have split the two meetings as the Hoosiers took the first 7-4 on March 8, 1996. In 2009 at the Seminole Classic, the Pirates netted their first win against Indiana with an 8-3 triumph. In that contest, ECU jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the top of the first and cruised to the victory. Charina Sumner collected three hits and scored three runs while Jessica Johnson, Angel Barrella and Marina Gusman-Brown each drove in two.
For the Hoosier offense this season, sophomore outfielder Jenna Abraham leads the way with a .382 batting above and five players are at the .300 mark or above. In the circle, the two-person staff of sophomore Meaghan Murphy (3-4/4.38 ERA) and freshman Lora Olson (5-6/5.07 ERA) has allowed opponents to compile a .336 batting average.
ECU Against Stanford
The Cardinal downed the Pirates 9-0 on March 23, 2008, in the only previous meeting between the two programs. Fifth-ranked Stanford scored four times in the second and fourth innings and current senior Suzanne Riggs, then a true freshman, retired all three batters she faced in the circle.
In 2012, the 11-ranked Cardinal is relying on 2011 USA Softball National Player of the Year Ashley Hansen and a pair of hitters batting over .400 (Leah White/.472 and Jenna Rich/.418). In the circle, Teagan Gerhart has thrown 98.2 of 120.1 innings and is 15-1 with a 1.21 earned run average.
Two Saves And Closing In On The Record
Entering with a one-run lead in the 10th inning against SIU Edwardsville on Feb. 24, freshman Courtney Smith retired all three batters she faced to register her second save of the season.
She is the Conference USA leader and is now tied for the second most by a rookie in East Carolina history, just one behind Keli Harrell's mark of three, set in 2005. Laurie Davidson in 2000, Jill Rowlands in 1994 and Jennifer Sagl in 1987 have also recorded two saves as freshmen.
Christian Halfway To Double Digits
Smith got the save in the first victory over SIUE, helping freshman Sarah Christian preserve her Conference USA-leading fifth win of the season. Christian allowed 12 hits and two walks while surrendering three earned runs in nine innings.
Her five triumphs are the most by an ECU freshman since Britt Howell tallied five in 2008. Next on the rookie win ledger is Brooke Swann, who totaled six in 2006. Toni Paisley holds the program freshman record with 21 victories in 2007.
Two Strikes And An Out
So far this season, Smith and Christian have excelled at turning two-strike counts into outs. Against Smith, 67 batters have faced two strikes, but only 13 have tallied hits, a .194 batting average against. Christian has been even better, getting two strikes against 66 batters and surrendering 12 hits, a .182 average.
Her First Against One Of The Best
Last weekend, freshman Sara Pacioni recorded her first collegiate hit at No. 2 Alabama. She lined a pinch-hit single to center field off of the Crimson Tide's Leslie Jury in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Pacioni becomes the third Pirate in the last two seasons to collect her initial career hit against a top-three opponent. In 2011, Alex Fieldhouse and Kristi Oshiro both recorded their first base hits Feb. 12 at No. 3 Georgia.
Fieldhouse's Winning Week
During ECU's six games last week, Fieldhouse batted .350, drove in the game-winning run in two of the team's three victories and scored the deciding run in the third triumph. She tied for the team lead in RBI during the week with four and paced the squad with a .500 slugging percentage, seven hits and 10 total bases. She also scored a Pirate third-best four runs.
This season, Fieldhouse leads the squad with four game-winning runs batted in. No other ECU player has more than one. Fieldhouse has already tallied six multiple-hit contests this season after recording five her entire freshman year.
Jelnick Goes For Four
In the finale of the Easton Bama Bash against North Dakota State, sophomore Jill Jelnick turned in one of the best offensive performances of her career, going 4-4 with two runs batted in and another scored. The four hits were a career high and the two RBI matched her personal best.
She is the second Pirate with a four-hit game in the last two years as Oshiro tallied one as a freshman against Northern Iowa.
Triple The Fun
East Carolina entered last weekend's action with one triple, by Jelnick against Drexel. In five games at the Easton Bama Bash, the Pirates pounded out three triples, including the first in the careers of Fieldhouse (SIU Edwardsville) and sophomore Jasmine Robbins (North Dakota State).
A Rare Loss
Sunday against North Dakota State, East Carolina fell behind 1-0 after the first inning, but came back to claim a 5-2 lead through five innings. The Bison scored three in the bottom of the sixth to tie the contest at 5-5 and eventually won 9-8 in eight innings.
It was ECU's first loss of the season when ahead after five innings. Since the start of the 2010 campaign, the Pirates have posted a 65-2 record (.925 winning percentage) when leading after five. The only other setback was a 2-1 loss at UNC Wilmington on April 6, 2011, when the Seahawks scored twice in the bottom of the seventh.