Pirates Host Tulsa For Key Series

UABSPORTS.COM Junior Faith Sutton went 1-0 with a 0.58 earned run average last week.
Junior Faith Sutton went 1-0 with a 0.58 earned run average last week.

March 24, 2011

East Carolina Games 33-34: Tulsa
Date Saturday, March 26
Times 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. ET
Location Greenville, N.C. (ECU Softball Stadium)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - After winning its first Conference USA series of the season last weekend at Marshall, East Carolina (23-9, 3-3 C-USA) returns to Greenville and faces league-leading Tulsa (23-7, 6-0 C-USA) for a three-game series. The teams open the weekend with a 10:00 a.m. doubleheader Saturday before completing the set with a 12:00 p.m. Sunday game.

Last weekend, the Pirates rebounded from a 1-2 start in league play by taking two of three at Marshall. Senior Toni Paisley broke the all-time East Carolina wins record by recording victories in both Saturday games, giving her 103 triumphs in her career. Freshman Jordan Lewis was selected as the C-USA Hitter-of-the-Week after batting .500 and driving in a pair of runs against the Thundering Herd.

The Pirates Against The Golden Hurricane
Tulsa holds a 7-6 advantage over East Carolina in the all-time series that began in 2006 when the Golden Hurricane joined Conference USA. The Pirates took the first meeting 3-2 before dropping the next four games. The teams have split the last six contests as Tulsa captured two of the three games in the 2008 series, while ECU won two of three during the 2009 campaign. The teams did not face each other a year ago as the series at Tulsa was canceled due to snow.

During the last series, and the Golden Hurricane's most recent Greenville visit, in 2009, the Pirates won 3-1 and 2-1 Saturday before falling 2-1 Sunday. Paisley struck out 12 in the opener and drove in a run. Jessica Johnson powered the ECU offense with a home run and RBI single. In the second contest, Cristen Aona had the game-deciding hit, singling through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the first to deliver a pair of unearned runs. In the finale, Jordan Kinard picked up the win for the Golden Hurricane as she allowed just two hits and a run via a Johnson solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. Paisley took the loss, giving up four hits and a two-run home run to Lauren Menke in the top of the sixth.

No. 1 And No. 2 In C-USA
The Golden Hurricane and the Pirates have finished first or second in the Conference USA regular season standings the last two years. Tulsa took the top spot in 2009 and East Carolina edged TU last season to win its first league title.

C-USA is one of just seven Division I leagues with eight or more teams that had the same squads finish first or second in the regular season standings the last two years. A closer look:

Conference Teams (2009/2010 Finish)
Big East Notre Dame (1/1), DePaul (2/2)
Big 10 Michigan (1/1), Ohio State (2/T-2)
Colonial Athletic Association Hofstra (1/1), Georgia State (2/2)
Mid-American Kent State (1/1), Ball State (1/1)
MAC split into East and West divisions
Pac-10 UCLA (1/2), Washington (2/1)
Southeastern Florida (1/1), Alabama (1/1)
SEC split into East and West divisions

Lewis Named C-USA Hitter-Of-The-Week
Lewis earned her first career Conference USA Hitter-of-the-Week honor Monday. She led the ECU offense last week, posting team-best marks in batting average (.533), hits (8), doubles (2), slugging percentage (.667), total bases (10) and on-base percentage (.563). She also tied for second on the squad with three runs batted in. Lewis had at least one hit in each of the five games and did not strike out. The Fremont, Calif., product drove in the game-winning run in the second contest March 15 against Charleston Southern. Saturday in the opener at Marshall, she collected a career-high-tying three hits, drove in a run and scored another to lead ECU to the 10-1 win. In the second game, she quickly put the Pirates ahead 1-0 with a double to left field in the opening inning.

A New Wins Queen
Paisley recorded the victory in both games at Marshall during last Saturday's sweep. The wins were the 102nd and 103rd of her career, pushing Paisley past Jenny Parsons (1990-93/102) for the all-time East Carolina record.

Paisley now owns the Pirates' career-best marks in wins, strikeouts (1,081) and shutouts (51) while ranking second in appearances (159), games started (127) and complete games (111).

And Closing In On The C-USA Wins Record
Paisley moved into the East Carolina wins lead last weekend and is quickly approaching DePaul's Lindsay Chouinard (2000-03/108) for the all-time Conference USA standard. Paisley and Chouinard are the only league hurlers to surpass the 100-victory threshold.

Paisley holds the league's strikeout record and, in addition to victories, stands second in innings pitched (916.0) and appearances (159). She is also tied for fifth with seven saves.

Multiple Hits: 10 And More To Come
Freshman Kristi Oshiro went 3-4 during the second game of last Saturday's doubleheader at Marshall to record her 10th multiple-hit contest of the year. Oshiro leads the Pirates in that category, two ahead of junior Suzanne Riggs.

Since the start of the 2009 season, only five Pirates have tallied more than 10 multiple-hit games in a year with Jessica Johnson's 16 in 2009 leading the way. Christina Merrida (12 in 2009, 13 in 2010), Charina Sumner (15 in 2010) and Marina Gusman-Brown (14 in 2010) are the only other Pirates to accomplish the feat.

Comfortable No Matter What
Oshiro has proved she can be successful in nearly any count she faces this season as she has a cumulative batting average of .344, which leads the team. When Oshiro is ahead in the count she is hitting .357, when even she is at .375 and when behind in the count she is batting .300. Looking at only two-strike counts, Oshiro is still hitting a solid .265.

Wynne Delivers Again
Freshman Abby Wynne has registered eight pinch hit at-bats this season and collected a squad-high five hits during those appearances. She owns a .625 average when pinch hitting and has reached base in her last six such appearances with a bases-loaded walk Feb. 20, a double March 4, singles March 9 and 12, a fielding error March 13 and ground-rule double last Saturday.

Her double that hopped over the wall in center field during the top of the sixth at Marshall drove in two runs, put ECU ahead 5-1 and sparked the Pirates' seven-run inning.

The Freshman Impact
East Carolina's 10 freshmen have had quite an influence on this season's team. Through the first six games of Conference USA action, four of the Pirates' top five hitters are rookies. The exception is senior Sissy Jimenez, who has five hits. Lewis has a team-best six hits in league games while Oshiro leads the squad with three doubles, four walks and four runs batted in while tying for the top spot with three runs scored.

The Innings Advantage
So far this season, the Pirates have exactly doubled their opponents' runs, leading 128-64. East Carolina holds the runs advantage for all but two innings, the seventh and ninth, when it trails by one. In every other frame, ECU has outscored the foe by three or more, including a cushion of 20 in the fifth (22-2).

A Pitching Comparison
Paisley and Faith Sutton turned in one of the best pitching seasons in East Carolina history in 2010. Through the first 32 games of this season, the duo has posted even better numbers. A closer look at each pitcher through the first 32 games and the combined totals of the two:


2011 1.24 17-5 82 33 20 187
2010 1.52 15-7 77 37 35 182


2011 2.62 6-4 55 31 14 68
2010 3.15 5-5 65 35 21 51


2011 1.69 23-9 137 64 34 255
2010 2.05 20-12 142 72 56 233