May 20, 2011
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Following a 5-1 victory over Maryland Friday night, East Carolina (40-20) returns to NCAA Regional action with a 12:00 p.m. Saturday contest against Baylor (41-12). The Bears topped Lehigh 4-0 Friday.
ECU In First-Time Meetings
Saturday's game against Baylor will be the first between the two programs. Since 2006, ECU has gone 22-13 when facing a team for the first time. So far this season, East Carolina is 5-2 in
such matchups, defeating Lipscomb 1-0, New Mexico State 8-5, Creighton 2-0, Northern Iowa 4-1 and Northern Colorado 11-3. The Pirates fell to Illinois State 8-0 and Arizona State 11-0.
A Home Turnaround
The Pirates became the first home team to capture the Conference USA Championship crown since Tulsa in 2006. In the process, East Carolina turned around its home record against C-USA foes. The Pirates went 4-8 against league opponents at the new ECU Softball Stadium during the regular season and had not won back-to-back home contests, but took three straight en route to the championship.
The Pirates played all three teams it defeated on the title run at home during the regular season and went a combined 3-6 against them, including a three-game sweep at the hands of Houston.
A Pair Of Big Blasts
East Carolina used a solo home run from freshman Alex Fieldhouse to capture a 1-0 win over Houston in the C-USA Tournament semifinals and a three-run long ball from junior Priscilla Velasquez to beat Tulsa 4-1 in the championship game.
The game-clinching blasts were from two unlikely sources. Fieldhouse, after her batting average dropped from .300 March 6 to .216 heading into the Conference USA Championship, found her swing during the event, hitting .375 and scoring a team-high three runs with a .750 slugging percentage. Velasquez, the tournament's MVP, was hitting .195 following the regular-season series against Houston May 1, but launched her first homer of the season and drove in seven runs during the three games, including a career-high four in the championship contest.
Paisley Breaks Own Strikeout Mark
During the May 6 Conference USA Tournament semifinal game against Houston, senior Toni Paisley broke her own ECU single-season strikeout record with the 357th whiff of the year. She fanned eight more against Tulsa in the championship game and seven Friday versus Maryland to raise her total to 372 in 292.1 innings this season. In 2010, Paisley tallied 356 strikeouts in 277.0 frames.
Runs Via Home Runs
Opponents have had a very hard time scoring runs against Paisley this season, as her ERA sits at 1.05 entering Saturday's game. In the Lakewood, Calif., native's last seven starts, she has surrendered eight earned runs, seven via home runs. Houston tallied a pair of solo homers May 1, Longwood hit a solo and two-run blast May 8 and Memphis and Tulsa each had a solo shot in the C-USA Tournament. Prior to those six long balls, Paisley had allowed just three home runs all season.
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 38-4 record when scoring first and is 32-3 when leading after four innings, 31-1 when ahead after five frames and 29-1 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 224 runs this season, 104 have scored when there are two outs, or 46.4 percent of the team's total. During the Conference USA Tournament, eight of ECU's 10 runs came with two down. Leading the way for the Pirates in two-out runs batted in are juniors Suzanne Riggs and Velasquez, who have plated 12 runs apiece with two down.
Among The Nation's Best
With the release of the most recent NCAA Division I softball statistics, through May 15 games, Paisley was ranked among the top 20 in Division I in solo shutouts (2nd/15), total strikeouts
(5th/365), victories (5th/30), earned run average (7th/1.08), hits allowed per seven innings (13th/4.10) and walks allowed per seven innings (20th/1.25).
Paisley also stood in the top 25 in strikeouts per seven innings (24th/9.0).
Paisley and junior Faith Sutton had combined to post the ninth-best earned run average among Division I programs at 1.53.