March 13, 2006
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After having its six-game winning streak snapped by Conference USA rival Houston over the weekend, East Carolina will look to begin a new streak Tuesday with a doubleheader against Delaware in Newark, Del. UD claimed a 6-1 victory over ECU earlier this season during the Hampton Inn Pirate Clash.
Following its venture north, ECU will return home for a non-conference doubleheader against Sacred Heart on Thursday before hosting UAB in a three-game Conference USA series beginning Saturday at 1 o'clock.
East Carolina is 6-7 against UAB since joining Conference USA in 2002, but has won six of the last seven meetings. The Blazers opened conference play by taking 2-of-3 from Memphis over the weekend.
Pirates Have Three Wins Over NCAA Teams This Season
East Carolina has already scored three victories over teams that participated in the 2005 NCAA Tournament this season. The Pirates are 3-1 against NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago with wins over Bethune-Cookman, Seton Hall and North Carolina. ECU's lone loss was a one-run loss to College of Charleston.
The Pirates have six games remaining with teams that reached postseason play in 2005, including a trip to Chapel Hill to face UNC and three-game series at Conference USA newcomer UCF, last season's Atlantic Sun champion, along with visits from California and Penn State.
Beginning Thursday against Sacred Heart, East Carolina will play its next 15 games at home. During that stretch the Pirates will host two Conference USA series (UAB and Marshall) and the Pirate Invitational March 24-26. ECU will play Coastal Carolina, California, Penn State, Buffalo and Kent State during the invitational.
Jessup Looking For 200
Senior Krista Jessup stands nine hits shy of becoming the seventh player in school history to tally 200 career hits. Through 23 games this season, Jessup is hitting .343 with nine doubles and 12 RBIs, tops on the team in both categories. Her nine doubles also ranks as tops in Conference USA.
Earlier this season, she became the ninth player at ECU to accumulate 100 career RBIs and continues to climb the school's career list for doubles. She has tallied 32 two-base hits in her career and currently ranks sixth on the school's list.
Building For The Future
With four freshmen and five sophomores, the Pirates are one of the youngest teams in Conference USA. Seniors Krista Jessup and Brently Bridgeforth are the only four-year members of the team. ECU's three other seniors: Stephanie Hayes, Alison Monce and Ashley Quick are each junior college transfers. Of the 17 players on the roster, only four have been in the program more than one season: Bridgeforth, Keli Harrell, Jessup and Jessica Potter. East Carolina underclassmen have made 113 starts this season, compared to 94 by the upperclassmen.
Avoiding The Sophomore Jinx
After putting solid numbers as a rookie and earning Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors, sophomore Erin St. Ledger has elevated her statistics this season. She currently leads the team in hitting with a .345 average and base on balls with eight. St. Ledger ranks just behind senior Krista Jessup on the team in hits with 20, and is tied for the team lead in stolen bases with five.
St. Ledger drove in the game-winning run in the series opener against Houston with a two-run double in the top of the eighth. She also drove in the game-tying run in the Pirates' 2-1 victory over the 25th-ranked Tar Heels earlier in the week.
Harrell Doing The Job Early
Of the 155.1 innings pitched by East Carolina hurlers this season, junior Keli Harrell has tossed 91.2 of those innings. She has won 10 games, tops in Conference USA and struck out 106 batters, while holding opposing hitters to a .193 average.
She has appeared in 16 of ECU's 23 games this season and received the decision in 16 of those contests. Harrell has struck out 10 or more batters in a game four times this season, including a season-high 13 against both Akron and Liberty.
On March 3 against Liberty, Harrell tossed her 20th career shutout becoming just the fourth player in ECU history to achieve the feat.
Knocking From The Ranks
East Carolina is 1-0 against ranked opponents in 2006 winning its lone game over a ranked foe on March 8 as it defeated No. 25 North Carolina, 2-1 in eight innings, at home. Freshman Jessica Johnson laid down a squeeze bunt that plated senior Krista Jessup with the winning run in the extra frame. UNC scored its only run in the top of the first off a wild pitch before ECU tied the score in the third courtesy of an RBI-double from Erin St. Ledger.
The Pirates will not face another ranked foe before hosting No. 7 California on March 25.