April 28, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina (34-16, 14-7 C-USA) completes the Conference USA regular season by welcoming Houston (33-15, 13-5 C-USA) to Greenville for three games. The teams play a 1:00 p.m. Saturday doubleheader and end the weekend with an 11:00 a.m. Sunday contest. Prior to the Sunday game, the Pirates will honor their two seniors, Toni Paisley and Sissy Jimenez. The series has large implications for the C-USA standings as the Cougars enter the weekend tied for second while the Pirates are in fourth.
Last weekend, ECU earned its second league sweep of the year, winning all three games at UTEP. Paisley struck out a career-high-tying 16 batters in the opener and freshman Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin drove in the game's only run. East Carolina won 6-0 in the second game as Jimenez drove in two runs during the first inning and junior Faith Sutton tossed a five-hit shutout. In the finale, three runs in the fourth and fifth frames propelled the Pirates to a 6-2 win with junior Priscilla Velasquez plating the game-winning run with a pinch-hit single in the fourth inning.
The Pirates Against The Cougars
Houston owns a 19-12 advantage in the all-time series, but ECU is 9-6 against the Cougars in Greenville. The Pirates have also won four of the last seven games, including two shutout victories, after dropping six straight and 10 of 11. The 19 losses represent the most East Carolina has suffered against any C-USA squad.
In the most recent meeting between the two, ECU won 4-0 in last season's Conference USA Tournament semifinals. The Pirates scored three runs in the first as Kaui Tom drew a bases-loaded walk and Jimenez hit a two-run single to right field. Paisley scattered four hits and struck out six in the victory. Earlier in 2010, East Carolina recorded its first victory in Houston since a 6-5 eight-inning win March 11, 2006. The Pirates took the opener 1-0 behind a first-inning RBI single from Christina Merrida. Despite solo home runs by Tom, Vanessa Moreno and Jimenez, a three-RBI performance by Houston's Melissa Gregson led the Cougars to a 4-3 victory in game two. A three-hit, three-RBI effort by Reina Gaber led UH to a 4-2 Sunday win.
During Houston's last visit to Greenville, the Pirates won the opener 6-2 before falling 3-1 in the second contest. In game one, with the score tied 2-2, East Carolina pushed across four runs in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice fly and a two-run double by Sarah Bibee. The Pirates had a 1-0 lead in the second contest, but could not hold on as the Cougars scored three runs in the top of the fifth. ECU rebounded to win the Sunday series finale 5-2 as Marina Gusman-Brown drove in the game-winning run with a two-out double to left field in a five-run fifth inning.
What's At Stake In Conference USA
East Carolina enters this weekend alone in fourth place in the C-USA standings with a 14-7 league mark, but has the chance to move up in the standings as Houston is tied for second with a 13-5 record. The Pirates also could tie the 2005 squad for the second most C-USA wins in a year. A closer look at East Carolina's final records and finishes:
||C-USA Record (Regular Season Finish)
Two Of The Nation's Best
This weekend's pitching battles between Paisley and Houston's Amanda Crabtree will feature two of the best hurlers in the country. Crabtree leads all Division I pitchers in strikeouts per seven innings (12.1) and fewest hits allowed per seven innings (2.67). On the other hand, Paisley tops the nation in shutouts with 14 and ranks fifth in total strikeouts with 311.
Jelnick Picking Up Steam
Freshman Jill Jelnick was penciled in as the starting right fielder for the series opener at UAB and has been on fire ever since. She has posted a .474 batting average, scored three runs, driven in three and drawn five walks. Her on-base percentage during the six contests is .583.
Coming On Strong
During last weekend's three games at UTEP Kaluhiokalani-Glackin drove in three runs, equaling her career RBI total entering the series. Her initial run batted in accounted for the first game's only score as the Pirates won 1-0. It was her second game-winning RBI in a Conference USA matchup as she also delivered the deciding tally in the first contest at Southern Miss.
After entering the month of April with three hits, two runs scored and one RBI in her first 27 games, Kaluhiokalani-Glackin has collected six hits, four runs scored and five RBI in her last 15 contests.
Taking Her Base
Junior Suzanne Riggs leads the Pirates, and all of Conference USA, with 18 walks during league games. Last weekend at UTEP, the Greenville native drew an ECU-high six free passes over the three contests.
Topping 300 Ks Again
A career-high-tying 16 strikeouts Friday and seven more Saturday at UTEP gave Paisley 311 whiffs in 2011, good for third on the ECU single-season record list. She set the program standard in 2010, fanning 356. Paisley, with 311 strikeouts this season and her mark from a year ago, along with Keli Harrell, who had 338 in 2005, are the only Pirate hurlers to record 300 or more whiffs in a campaign.
Two Strikes Mean Hits
Freshman Alex Fieldhouse has collected 24 hits this season; 12 have been when she is facing two strikes. Fieldhouse has seven hits in a 2-2 count and five more with a full count.
A 20 And 20 Weekend
East Carolina scored 13 runs during the series at UTEP, and did so collecting only 20 hits, two for extra bases. Helping the Pirates' offense was a hits-matching 20 walks. As a team, ECU posted a .447 on-base percentage for the three contests.
Coming Back For The Victory
UTEP took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning during Saturday's finale, but the Pirates came back to capture a 6-2 victory. It was ECU's second win of the year when the opponent scored first. The other triumph was a 4-1 win over Northern Iowa March 5 after Hannah Borschel led off the game with a solo home run.
No Clutch Hits Allowed
Paisley and Sutton each threw a shutout Friday at UTEP and Paisley allowed two runs, one earned, during the Saturday series finale. The pair was able to keep the UTEP offense in check in part due to strong performances with runners in scoring position. The Miners were held hitless in 14 at bats with a runner on second or third base during the series.
Six And Win
East Carolina won two games at UTEP last weekend when tallying six runs, 6-0 and 6-2. This season, when the Pirates score six or more times, the team is 15-0. Since the start of the 2005 season, ECU has gone 101-10 (.910 winning percentage) when reaching the six-run mark.
A Powerful Twosome
A year ago, East Carolina finished the Conference USA regular season with a 16-5 mark as its series at Tulsa was canceled due to snow. In the 21 league tilts, Paisley started 14 contests and Sutton started seven. Through the same number of C-USA starts for both hurlers this season, Paisley has been nearly as impressive gunning for her third-straight Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Year honor while Sutton has shaved more than a one run off her earned run average and tossed six complete games, up from four.