April 26, 2012
|East Carolina Games 47-49: Marshall |
Saturday, April 27 | 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. ET
Greenville, N.C. (ECU Softball Stadium)
|Game 1 Watch Live | Game 2 Watch Live | Game 1 Gametracker | Game 2 Gametracker|
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Coming off a rain-shortened two-game series sweep of Southern Miss, East Carolina (21-25, 7-10 C-USA) remains at home for another Conference USA set this weekend as Marshall (30-18, 11-7 C-USA) makes the trip to Greenville. The teams square off in a 1:00 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and complete the series Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest that will serve as the Pirates' Senior Day, honoring Suzanne Riggs and Priscilla Velasquez.
Against Southern Miss, East Carolina won both games Saturday before the Sunday finale was rained out. The Pirates captured 2-1 and 3-1 victories as freshmen pitchers Courtney Smith and Sarah Christian each threw a complete game and combined to allow just seven hits without walking a batter. In the opener, a two-out solo home run from sophomore Alex Fieldhouse in the bottom of the sixth made a winner of Smith, who retired 13 of the final 14 Southern Miss batters with only Omeshia Moffett reaching after being hit by a pitch. Game two had ECU sophomore Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin deliver the deciding run with a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins accounted for the other two runs as she tallied an RBI single and the final run scored when her fly ball was dropped by Moffett in right field.
The Pirates Against The Thundering Herd
Marshall is one of just three Conference USA programs to lead the all-time series with East Carolina, holding a 12-11 advantage. The teams first met for a single game Feb. 20, 1998, at the Triangle Classic in Raleigh, N.C. The Thundering Herd won that meeting 2-0 and claimed six of the first nine matchups. Most recently, the Pirates have won six of the last nine tilts.
A year ago in Huntington, ECU won 10-1 and 3-2 before falling 3-2 in the finale. In the opener, the Pirates were ahead 3-1 before a seven-run sixth inning put the game away. Jordan Lewis tallied three hits and Kristi Oshiro and Abby Wynne each had two runs batted in during the contest. With game two tied 1-1 after seven innings, Fieldhouse led off the eighth with a solo home run and Oshiro drove in Robbins as East Carolina held on for the victory. Sunday, a three-run home run by Rebecca Gamby in the bottom of the third was all the offense the Thundering Herd needed as pitchers Natalee Pulver and Rachel Rillo held ECU to three hits.
In 2010, the teams split four meetings. Marshall won 8-7 in nine innings at the Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., Feb. 19. East Carolina trailed 7-1 in the fifth before tying it in the seventh, only to have Marshall win on a bases-loaded walk to Marcena Bertoldo in the bottom of the ninth. In the three-game series in Greenville, ECU won the opener 4-3 as Marina Gusman-Brown hit a game-tying two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Kaui Tom had a sacrifice fly in the ninth to bring home the deciding run. Marshall hit two home runs and Alysia Hively drove in three during the Thundering Herd's 10-6 victory in game two. In the finale, Gusman-Brown and Tom combined to drive in seven runs as ECU rolled to a 10-0 win.
Getting Back On Track
With a two-game sweep of Southern Miss last weekend, East Carolina upped its Conference USA record to 7-10. The mark is the worst since a 6-11 ledger in 2008, when the squad made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.
Going For .500 In League Action
A series sweep of Marshall would even the Pirates' C-USA record at 10-10. Since joining the league in 2002, ECU has finished below .500 in C-USA only four times. A closer look at the Pirates' league records since 2002:
|Year||17-Game Record||Final C-USA Record (Regular Season Finish)|
Greenville = Winville
The two wins against Southern Miss last weekend lifted the Pirates' home C-USA record to 6-2. In all games this season, the team is 13-5 inside the ECU Softball Stadium. Since the facility opened in February of 2011, the team is 33-16 in Greenville, good for a .673 winning percentage.
Sweeping Aside Conference USA Foes
East Carolina took two from the Golden Eagles, giving the team two Conference USA series sweeps this season as it also won three contests versus UTEP March 24-25. A year ago, the Pirates swept a pair of league opponents, Southern Miss and the Miners.
In 2010 and 2011, the Pirates set and then tied the program record with four league series sweeps.
One Big Arm
East Carolina's offense, which ranks third in Conference USA with a .274 batting average, could have a tough task at the plate this weekend as the team will likely face Marshall ace Andi Williamson twice. The University of Tennessee transfer owns an 8-5 record in Conference USA competition to go along with a 1.34 earned run average, the third-best mark in the league, and 95 strikeouts, the second-most in C-USA action.
Been There, Did It Again
With the series opener against Southern Miss tied 1-1 and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Fieldhouse hit a solo home run to left field to give the Pirates a 2-1 victory.
It is the sophomore's third career solo game-deciding home run against a Conference USA foe as she hit one against Marshall in the second contest and one versus Houston in the semifinals of the league tournament a year ago.
Extending Her Streak
Fieldhouse's long ball in the opener against Southern Miss gave her a career-high seven-game hitting streak. She extended the run to eight with a single in the second contest.
The streak is the second longest on the team this season, behind only sophomore Lewis' 10-gamer. Since the start of the 2005 campaign, only eight Pirates, including Lewis, have compiled hitting streaks of nine games or longer. Paige Baggett (2006) and Krista Jessup (2005) own the longest strings at 11 contests each.
Finding Her Groove In The Circle
Entering the final game at Houston on April 15, Smith owned a 3-10 record and 5.51 earned run average. Since then, she has made three starts, against the Cougars, Longwood and Southern Miss, and won all three while posting a 2.21 ERA and tossing her first career shutout versus the Lancers.
The positive streak started for the Yuba City, Calif., product seven starts ago. During the span, she has gone 4-2 with a 2.53 earned run average. In her previous six starts, Smith went 0-4 with a 12.39 ERA.
15 For The Rookie
Christian has been nearly as impressive as Smith in her last three starts, going 2-1 with a 1.35 earned run average. In Christian's last outing, versus Southern Miss in the second game Saturday, she earned her 15th victory of the campaign by limiting the Golden Eagles to one run on four hits.
The win made the Greenville product only the fifth freshman in program history, and third since 1996, to record 15 triumphs. Christian's 174.1 innings pitched are also the fourth most by an ECU rookie. Toni Paisley (2007) holds the freshman win record with 21 while Jill Rowlands (1994) has the innings mark at 193.0.
Big Bat, Big Hits, Big Second Half
Robbins led East Carolina with four runs batted in, a .625 slugging percentage and a .545 on-base percentage last week. The Indian Trail, N.C., native went two-for-four in the doubleheader against Southern Miss, raising her Conference USA batting average to a team second-best .320. She is tied for the top spot on the team during league games in hits with 16 and is second in slugging percentage at .460. A year ago, Robbins paced the Pirates with a .333 average in C-USA action while recording 14 hits and a .357 slugging percentage.
Nothing Free Issued
East Carolina enters this weekend's series with Marshall leading Conference USA in fewest walks allowed with only 85. In the last four contests, the Pirates have not issued a free pass. The string is the second longest by a league team this season, trailing only Memphis' five-game walkless streak from April 10-14.