May 5, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina wraps up the regular season and makes its final preparations for the Conference USA Tournament this weekend with three nonleague games in Farmville, Va. The Pirates (34-19) play host Longwood (32-11) at 12:00 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 p.m. Sunday. ECU takes on UMBC (25-21) at approximately 2:00 p.m. Saturday.
Last weekend, ECU suffered its first home C-USA sweep since 2006, falling three times to Houston. The Pirates lost the opener 1-0 as a wild pitch by senior Toni Paisley in the sixth inning brought in the game's only run. During the second contest, Reina Gaber and Haley Outon each had three RBI to lead the Cougars to an 8-0 victory. In the Sunday finale, East Carolina took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when freshman Kristi Oshiro drove in two, but an unearned run in the fifth and two solo home runs in the 10th gave Houston the comeback 5-3 win.
The Pirates Against The Lancers
East Carolina has defeated Longwood in both previous meetings, claiming a 7-0 triumph April 9, 2005, and a 5-1 victory March 5, 2006. The first contest was in Farmville, while the second was part of the Hampton Inn Pirate Classic in Greenville.
In the initial meeting, the Pirates tallied 10 hits to back Keli Harrell's two-hit shutout. She struck out nine in the contest. Leading the way for the offense was Laurel Carlson, who collected three hits. Mandi Nichols and Leigh Savoy each registered two base knocks with one of Savoy's a home run.
Most recently, ECU claimed the Hampton Inn Pirate Classic title by defeating the Lancers in 2006. Krista Jessup had two doubles and scored a pair of runs while Harrell struck out 10 and scattered six hits in the victory. Beth Nolan, Jessica Johnson and Paige Baggett each drove in a run for the Pirates.
East Carolina Versus UMBC
The Pirates hold an 18-8 advantage in the all-time series against former Big South rival UMBC. East Carolina has won 12 of the last 13 games, and outscored the Retrievers 88-33, after dropping four straight in 1997 and 1998.
The teams last met Feb. 26, 2005, at the Seahawk Classic hosted by UNC Wilmington, with ECU taking a 7-4 victory. Savoy again led the Pirates at the plate, going 2-4 with a two-run home run. Allison Monce also added a home run. Stephanie Hayes picked up her fourth win of the year while Harrell recorded the save.
The Most Wins Since 2007
Since fifth-year senior Paisley joined the ECU softball program in 2007, the Pirates have recorded 197 victories, more than any Conference USA program. East Carolina claimed its first C-USA regular season and tournament titles last year and has finished no lower than fifth in the league standings since Paisley's arrival. A closer look at victories since the start of the 2007 campaign:
Taking A Conference Break
The Pirates have gone 20-9 in nonconference action this season, but have dropped their last three, one at UNC Wilmington and two in Greenville to N.C. State. Overall, ECU has outscored its nonleague foes 114-63 while the pitching staff has posted 13 shutouts.
Since the start of the 2005 campaign, ECU has posted a 187-86 record out of conference.
A Great Last Nine
Entering the April 16 doubleheader at UAB, freshman Jill Jelnick had a .254 batting average and three multiple-hit games. In the nine games since, Jelnick has raised her batting average 44 points, to .298, and tallied four more multihit contests. She leads the Pirates with a .407 batting average during the span and has drawn seven walks to post a team-high .529 on-base percentage.
And Not Far Behind
Jelnick is not the only freshman to have come on strong in the last nine games as classmate Jasmine Robbins trails closely behind with a .360 batting average. Robbins has tallied team second-best marks in hits (9) and on-base percentage (.500) while picking up five walks since the series at UAB began.
Robbins finished the Conference USA season leading the Pirates with a .333 batting average and .462 on-base percentage. The Indian Trail, N.C., product added 14 hits and eight runs scored.
Approaching Her Own Record
Paisley heads into this weekend's games with 328 strikeouts so far in 2011, just 28 shy of the program standard she set a year ago with 356 whiffs.
Last season, the Lakewood, Calif., native appeared in 48 games and averaged 9.0 strikeouts per seven innings. In 2011, Paisley has made 39 appearances and is fanning 9.2 batters per seven frames.
Up To 23rd In NCAA Division I History
Paisley's 328 strikeouts this season have pushed her career total to 1,222. She now holds sole possession of 23rd place on the NCAA Division I all-time whiff list. She trails Texas Tech's Amanda Renfro (1998-2001) by four for 22nd place on the chart.
Aerial And Ground Coverage Provided By Oshiro
Second baseman Oshiro finished last weekend's series against Houston with 14 putouts. She was all over the right side of the diamond, catching 10 pop ups, either on the infield or in right center, and was on the receiving end of four throws to first base. In comparison, senior first baseman Sissy Jimenez tallied 13 putouts for the three games.
Lots Of Free Softball
During the May 1 series finale against Houston, East Carolina pushed the Cougars to 10 innings before falling 5-3. It was the Pirates' sixth C-USA game that went extra frames and the fourth lasting 10 or more innings. ECU finished the league campaign with a 3-3 record in extra-inning contests.
Overall this year, the Pirates are 3-5 in extra-inning affairs.
Looking To Stop The Slide
East Carolina heads into this weekend's action on a three-game losing streak after dropping all three contests against Houston last weekend. The Pirates have not suffered four-straight setbacks since Feb. 14-15, 2009. The final two defeats during that streak were at No. 1 Alabama and versus No. 4 Michigan.
Catch Us If You Can
When falling behind this season, opponents have had a very hard time coming back on the Pirates. East Carolina has a 32-4 record when scoring first and is 27-3 when leading after four innings, 25-1 when ahead after five frames and 23-1 when leading after six.
ECU's only loss when ahead after five innings was a 2-1 setback at UNC Wilmington April 6, when the Seahawks won on a two-run walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh.
Of East Carolina's 195 runs this season, 93 have scored when there are two outs. That amounts to 47.7 percent of the team's total. During the May 1 finale against Houston, two of the team's three runs were scored with two down.
Leading the way for the Pirates in two-out runs batted in is junior Suzanne Riggs, who has plated 12 runs with two down.