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Softball Knocks Off No. 6 California And No-Hits Kent State
 
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Paige Baggett
 
Paige Baggett
 
 

March 26, 2006

GREENVILLE, N.C. --- The East Carolina softball team enjoyed one of the finest days in school history on Sunday, defeating No. 6 California, 8-3, and then beating Kent State 1-0 in nine innings behind junior pitcher Keli Harrell's second career no-hitter.

With its two victories, East Carolina improved to 23-15 overall this season and 2-1 against ranked opponents.

Against Cal (28-3), East Carolina scored all eight of its runs off home runs. ECU hit three home runs in the game touching up Cal starter Lauren Frankiewicz (9-1) for 10 hits.

Trailing 1-0 heading into the third inning, the Pirates seized their first lead of the game as freshman Jessica Johnson hit a two-run homer off the foul pole in left field, scoring senior Krista Jessup, who reached one a one-out single through the left side.

The Bears then tied the game in the bottom half of the third as Kaite Vickers was hit by a pitch with the bases load.

With the game tied with two outs in the fifth, Johnson beat the shortstop's throw to second base for a force out to put two runners on base and bring sophomore Paige Baggett to the plate. Baggett then crushed the ball over the center field fence giving, ECU a 5-2 advantage.

Baggett collected three hits off the Golden Bear starter, driving in three and runs and scoring.

ECU starter Stephanie Hayes (4-0) pitched the first four innings and surrender just two hits before being lifted in favor of senior Brently Bridgeforth at the start of the fifth.

After giving up a solo home run to catcher Haley Woods, Bridgeforth got Vickers to line into an inning-ending double play and preserved the lead.

Junior Keli Harrell was brought in to pitch at the start of the sixth. Although she was tagged for two hits in the frame, she was resilient and induced three ground ball outs to keep the Bears off the scoreboard.

ECU then extended its lead to 8-3 in the seventh as Alison Monce blasted Frankiewicz's offering over left field wall with two runners on base. Baggett extended the inning with a two-single to bring Monce to the plate after junior Jessica Potter singled with one out.

With Cal down to its final at-bat, Harrell retired the first two batters she faced and then got Vickers to fly out to left field to end the game, earning her second save of the season.

The win marked the Pirates' first-ever win over a top 10 team and first over a PAC-10 opponent.

The celebration was short-lived as Kent State awaited in the final game of the 2006 Pirate Invitational.

Riding the momentum of her team's victory, Harrell pitched one of her best games of the year. She tied her season-high for strikeouts with 13 and didn't issue a walk, facing just two batters over the minimum.

Harrell retired the first nine batters she faced in succession before Kent State (10-12) put its first runner on base due to an ECU fielding error.

That small hiccup by the Pirate defense didn't faze her at all as she struck out the side to end the fourth.

Harrell (12-10) then proceeded to sit down the next eight batters she faced in order before Jamie Fitzpatrick reached on a dropped third strike. Harrell then got Whitney Lebowitz to softly ground out to end the seventh.

Matching Harrell inning-for-inning was KSU starter Brittany Robinson (9-6). Robinson held the Pirates' to just four hits through the first seven innings and didn't allow a runner past second base.

With Robinson on second to start the ninth, Corey Houk sacrificed her over to third to put the go-ahead run at third base with one out. Robinson then attempted to score on a ground ball hit to Erin St. Ledger at second base, but St. Ledger threw her out to preserve the scoreless tie. Jessica Toocheck then fouled out to end the Golden Flash half of the ninth.

After St. Ledger sacrificed freshman Vanessa Moreno over to third base, Jessup delivered the game-winning run with a base hit to left field.