April 20, 2012
|East Carolina Games 45-46: Southern Miss
Saturday, April 21 | 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. ET
Greenville, N.C. (ECU Softball Stadium)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Riding a three-game winning streak, East Carolina (19-25, 5-10 C-USA) welcomes Southern Miss (12-24, 4-11 C-USA) to Greenville for the Pirates' sixth Conference USA series of the season. The teams play a doubleheader Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and finish the set Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest.
Three special events will take place at the ECU Softball Stadium over the weekend as Saturday is Youth Day, Sunday the local Exceptional Community Baseball League will play a game on the field with the East Carolina softball players following the series finale and the entire series has been designated as Alumni Weekend. Between games one and two Saturday, all previous Pirate letterwinners in attendance will be recognized on the field.
Wednesday, in ECU's final regular season nonconference contests, the Pirates used three big innings to sweep Longwood 5-0 and 5-2. In the opener, a two-run pinch-hit single off the bat of junior Cicely Lopez delivered the game-winning tally as East Carolina scored five times in the bottom of the sixth. In the nightcap, three runs in the first, on an RBI triple from sophomore Jordan Lewis and a two-run home run by senior Suzanne Riggs, and two more in the sixth on a double by sophomore Jasmine Robbins provided the offense. Lewis finished the doubleheader five-for-six with two runs scored and one batted in.
The two wins pushed the Pirates' 2012 home record to 11-5. Since the ECU Softball Stadium opened last year, the team is 31-16 (.660 winning percentage) in Greenville.
The Pirates Against The Golden Eagles
East Carolina holds an 18-16 advantage in the all-time series, which began with a single game in 1985. The teams did not meet again until 2002, when ECU joined Conference USA. Streaks by both teams have defined the series as the Pirates lost 13 of the first 15 contests, rebounded to take the next eight, dropped three of the following four and claimed the seven most recent.
A year ago in Hattiesburg, East Carolina won the three games, 6-0, 5-1 and 8-1. In the opener, Toni Paisley threw her sixth career no-hitter and Riggs and Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin drove in two runs each. Game two had Riggs plate two more and Lewis added a two-run home run. In the finale, Robbins delivered three runs and Riggs tallied two more RBI to back Paisley's four-hit performance.
During the Golden Eagles' last visit to Greenville, in 2010, the Pirates recorded 4-0, 1-0 and 5-0 victories. In game one, Vanessa Moreno led off the second inning with a home run before ECU tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. The second contest had Riggs drive in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh with a pinch-hit single as Faith Sutton allowed just three hits. In the Sunday series finale, the Pirates scored in each of the first three innings as Paisley threw her second shutout in as many days.
The teams also met during the first round of the 2010 Conference USA Tournament, with the Pirates winning 8-0 in five innings. Moreno went three-for-three and scored twice, Kaui Tom drove in three runs and Paisley scattered three hits and struck out eight.
Winning Against The Top Of Conference USA
The Pirates have a 5-10 record in league games, but two victories have come against clubs tied for first or second in the C-USA standings at the time of the games. ECU recorded Sunday wins versus second-place UAB and first-place Houston in addition to a three-game sweep of seventh-place UTEP. Left on East Carolina's league slate are three with fifth-place Marshall, seventh-place Memphis and eighth-place Southern Miss.
Rough Road, Happy Home
With a 7-6 victory at Houston on Sunday, East Carolina earned its first win on the road in Conference USA play this season (1-8). On the other hand, ECU has gone 4-2 inside the ECU Softball Stadium during league action, including the team's lone C-USA sweep of the year, against UTEP.
Hits, Runs, We Want More
Through 15 Conference USA games, East Carolina has compiled the third-highest batting average in league competition at .285. The Pirates trail only Houston (.344) and Tulsa (.313). ECU's 60 walks are two behind UTEP for the C-USA lead while the Pirate hitters' 58 strikeouts are just one behind the Golden Hurricane for the fewest in the league.
Despite the team's high batting average, East Carolina's 66 runs scored rank fifth in the conference, trailing Houston (89), UTEP (77), Tulsa (75) and UCF (70).
A Chance To Become Even Better
East Carolina has the opportunity to increase its offensive production this weekend as the Southern Miss pitching staff enters the series having allowed 152 hits, the second most surrendered during C-USA games.
Active players on the Pirate roster have also compiled a .278 career batting average (25-of-90) against the Golden Eagles. Riggs has hit .545 (six-of-11) versus USM pitchers while Robbins tallied a .500 average (four-of-eight) last year in Hattiesburg.
The First Is Now In The Books, Part I
In the opener against Longwood on Wednesday, freshman pitcher Courtney Smith shut out the Lancers on three hits to earn her first career blanking. The Yuba City, Calif., product struck out three and did not allow a walk in tossing her seventh complete game of the campaign.
The shutout victory is the latest in a string of six strong starts by Smith. In that time, she is 3-2 to go along with a 2.87 earned run average. In her previous six starts, she was 0-4 with a 12.39 ERA.
The First Is Now In The Books, Part II
It took six starts and seven appearances in Conference USA action, but Smith got the monkey off her back Sunday at Houston, recording the first league victory of her career with the Pirates' 7-6 triumph. She threw the initial five frames of the contest, allowing five runs on nine hits and a walk.
Smith has become more comfortable in C-USA action and dramatically improved her performances. Following her first two league starts, she owned a 12.60 earned run average. In the last four, however, she holds a 4.50 ERA.
Rolling Along, Again
Wednesday against Longwood, sophomore Lewis finished five-for-six with two runs scored and one batted in. She set her season high, and matched her personal best, with three hits in the opener. In the nightcap, she hit her first career triple, driving in sophomore Jill Jelnick to tie the game at 1-1 in the first inning.
The performances extended Lewis' hitting streak to six games. From March 18 to April 4, the Fremont, Calif., native had a career-long 10-game run. Prior to the start of the March 18 string, she was hitting .266, but her average now sits at .315.
ECU has scored 24 runs in the last five games (4.8 per contest). Helping to jumpstart the offense has been success getting the leadoff batter on base. The Pirates' initial hitter of an inning has reached 18 of 31 times (58.1 percent of the time). During those 18 frames, the team scored in nine, good for a success rate of 50.0 percent. The 13 times East Carolina failed to get the leadoff batter on, the squad scored in just one frame (7.7 percent of the time).
During the Pirates' three-game winning streak, the club has pushed across 11 of its 17 runs (64.7 percent) and posted a .400 batting average (12-of-30) with two outs. Entering the third game at Houston, the Pirates were hitting .244 (87-of-357) when there were two down.
In C-USA contests, ECU has tallied 20 of its 58 RBI (34.5 percent) and hit .244 (31-of-127) with two outs.