Pitchers Lead ECU Softball Team To C-USA Doubleheader Sweep Of UTEP
April 14, 2006
GREENVILLE, N.C. --- East Carolina won its first Conference USA series of the season here Friday, sweeping a doubleheader from league newcomer UTEP, 5-0 and 2-1, behind a pair of outstanding pitching performances. The Pirates will go for their first series sweep of the season Saturday at 1 o'clock.
With their victories, the Pirates (31-20, 5-9) closed to within one-half game of the Miners (19-26, 5-8), who are tied with Memphis for sixth place in the conference standings. Only the top six teams in the final C-USA regular season standings advance to the league's postseason tournament.
Senior Keli Harrell (18-13) tossed a complete game, four-hit shutout in the opener before retiring all three batters she faced in the seventh of game two to earn her third save of the season. Freshman Brooke Swann (6-2) scattered four hits over six innings without a walk in her first conference start of the season in game two.
Beth Nolan's sacrifice fly in the second gave ECU a 1-0 lead and Harrell all the run support she needed as allowed just one runner beyond second base and did not allow more than one hit in an inning.
The Pirates added to their lead with two runs in the third when Miner third baseman Amber Bennett elected to attempt to catch Vanessa Moreno straying off third base. However, her throw back to the bag went into the dug out and allowed two base runners to score.
Following a pair of UTEP pitching changes in the sixth, senior Alison Monce delivered the knockout blow with a two-run double down the third base line.
ECU collected seven hits, six off of starting pitcher Veronica Flournoy
(9-8), lead by Erin St. Ledger's two base knocks.
With UTEP starter Meghan Barber (4-7) holding the Pirate bats in check in the nightcap, Swann was on top of her game retiring the first nine batters she faced before giving up a hit. After yielding the single, Swann sat down eight in-a-row before yielding her only extra base hit of the afternoon in the sixth.
UTEP committed four errors in the game and ECU capitalized on each opportunity.
The Pirates scored their first run in the third as Vanessa Moreno scored on a two-out error by second baseman DeAnna Camacho. Moreno led off the inning with a base hit to center and moved around the bases on a ground ball out and wild pitch before scoring on Camacho's miscue.
The game remained 1-0 until the sixth when the Pirates were again able to take advantage of another UTEP error and add an insurance run. Pinch-runner Brently Bridgeforth took third base on a failed pickoff attempt by catcher Meghan Stone at second. Joyce Roodenburg later reached on a two-out infield single to plate Bridgeforth.
The Miners collected back-to-back singles for the first time all day to start the seventh and chase Swann from the game. Although UTEP did score a run as shortstop Paige Baggett elected to secure the second out at first base, Harrell never allowed the ball out of the infield, inducing a pair of ground ball outs and striking out another to get the save.