May 5, 2012
|East Carolina Game 52: Memphis
Sunday, May 6 | 1:00 p.m. ET
Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis Softball Complex)
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GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina (25-26, 11-11 C-USA) wraps up the regular season Sunday at Memphis with a 1:00 p.m. ET contest against the Tigers (19-36, 7-16 C-USA). The Pirates go for the sweep and have won three-straight C-USA series after taking just one of their first five.
Saturday, ECU recorded two come-from-behind wins, beating the Memphis 5-4 in the opener and 4-3 in eight innings in the nightcap. In game one, the Pirates trailed 4-1 heading into the sixth inning, but scored four times with two outs in the frame to earn the victory. Senior Suzanne Riggs led the offense in the opener, going three-for-three with two runs batted in, and classmate Priscilla Velasquez drove in the winning run. The second contest had junior Kai Clark hit a game-tying home run to lead off the top of the seventh and Riggs plate the deciding score with a single in the eighth.
Putting It Back Together
After opening the season with 3-1 and 6-3 records, East Carolina was off to its best start since 2008. The Pirates then dropped 22 of their next 32 games, but are appearing to peak at the right time and head into the series finale at Memphis having won nine of their last 10. It is the team's most successful stretch since a nine-game winning streak from Feb. 19-March 4, 2011.
East Carolina recorded a pair of one-run victories Saturday at Memphis. The wins lifted the Pirates' record to 9-5 in one-run contests this season. After starting the season with three wins in one-run affairs, ECU dropped five of its next six one-run tilts before winning the last five.
A year ago, East Carolina went 11-12 in one-run games and has not finished a season more than two games above .500 in one-run decisions since a 12-5 ledger in 2008.
Improving In The Clutch
ECU has won nine of its last 10 games, in part due to the defense and pitching limiting opponent success with runners on base. During the recent stretch, foes have hit just .250 (15-for-60) with runners in scoring position and .234 (26-for-111) with runners on base.
Prior to the win over Houston in the series finale, opponents had posted a .316 average (123-for-389) with runners in scoring position and a .340 mark (200-for-588) with runners on base.
Cutting Down The Ks
Although Marshall's Andi Williamson did strike out 15 in 12 innings of work last weekend, East Carolina has still greatly reduced its whiff count from a year ago. ECU fanned 384 times in 63 games during the 2011 campaign, an average of 6.1 per contest. This year, despite playing six games against ranked opponents, the Pirates are down to 4.4 strikeouts a game with 226 in 51 tilts.
In C-USA action, East Carolina whiffed 5.8 times a game last season and has just 3.8 a contest this year.
Making Them Go One At A Time
Through the first 30 games of the season, opponents were averaging 1.97 extra-base hits per contest. In the last 21 tilts, however, freshmen pitchers Sarah Christian and Courtney Smith have held foes to an average of 1.29 extra-base hits a matchup.
The opposition's home run totals have also been reduced as foes hit 23 through the first 30 games (0.77 per contest), but have managed just eight in the last 21 (0.38 per contest).
No Comparison From Year One To Year Two
Sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin went one-for-three with a run scored and stolen base during game two against Marshall last weekend. The single was the Waianae, Hawai'i, product's 18th hit of the season. During the Sunday finale, she recorded her 100th defensive assist.
After a year of learning on the job as a freshman, Kaluhiokalani-Glackin has made large gains both offensively and defensively this season. A comparison of the output from 2011 to 2012: