June 24, 2010
Review 2010 in Pictures
GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina softball team’s 2010 season was one of the most successful in program history. The Pirates claimed their first Conference USA regular season and tournament championships and won a pair of NCAA Tournament contests, including knocking out host and No. 7 national seed Texas while in Austin. Individually, ECU also had an All-America selection and an Academic All-America honoree.
Below is a look back at some of the highlights from a record-breaking 2010 season.
Program Firsts In Conference USA
East Carolina claimed its first C-USA regular season and tournament titles. It was the first regular season title for the Pirate program since winning three consecutive Big South championships from 1997-99. The tournament crown was also its first since the 1999 Big South post-season title.
On To Austin
The league tournament championship gave ECU Conference USA’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Pirates traveled to Austin, Texas, and advanced to the regional final for the first time. East Carolina claimed its second and third NCAA Tournament wins in program history while in Austin.
A Texas Two-Step
While at the Austin Regional, after defeating Iona 3-0, the Pirates used a sixth-inning solo home run from senior Marina Gusman-Brown to eliminate the host, No. 7 national seed and 12th-ranked Texas Longhorns 1-0. Junior Toni Paisley recorded 10 strikeouts in the victory that moved East Carolina into the championship contest against BYU. It was the Pirates’ first victory over a ranked team since a 4-1 triumph over Virginia Tech April 29, 2008.
The Nation’s Best
With a .9800 team fielding percentage, East Carolina finished ranked first in the country. The Pirates committed just 31 errors in 62 games. For the past four seasons, ECU has not finished lower than third nationally in fielding percentage (second in 2007, .977; third in 2008, .980; third in 2009, .978).
East Carolina And The RPI
With the final RPI release by the NCAA, East Carolina checked in 34th, the highest of any Conference USA squad. During the course of the season, the Pirates captured three road triumphs over UCF (RPI: 39), two versus N.C. State (RPI: 58) and one against Texas (RPI: 14) and Fresno State (RPI: 46).
All-American Honors For Paisley
After compiling an ECU single-season record 356 strikeouts to go along with a 31-11 mark, Paisley was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-America Third Team. She became the third National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America selection in Pirate history, joining Isonette Polonius (1998-99) and Keisha Shepperson (2000-01). Paisley finished the season ranked fourth in the NCAA in earned run average (1.09), 10th in strikeouts, 11th in hits allowed per seven innings (3.89), 14th in victories and 30th in strikeouts per seven innings (9.0).
And An Academic All-America Selection
Senior second baseman Charina Sumner was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-America Third Team. A health education and promotion major, Sumner graduated with a 3.93 grade-point average. On the field, the All-Conference USA Second-Team member led East Carolina in hits (64), doubles (14) and triples (5), while standing second in batting average (.332), slugging percentage (.503), runs scored (37) and walks (22). She produced a team-best 15 multiple-hit games and added seven multi-RBI contests.
A Pair Of All-Region Honorees
Paisley was named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I Mideast All-Region First Team and was joined by Gusman-Brown, who was a First-Team All-Conference USA selection in 2010 and the March 29 C-USA Hitter-of-the-Week. Gusman-Brown paced the Pirates in batting average (.337), home runs (13), runs batted in (40), runs scored (38), slugging percentage (.646) and stolen bases (30).
Two Academic All-District Picks
Before becoming an Academic All-American, Sumner was selected to the CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District First Team. She was joined on that squad by classmate Kaui Tom, who graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average as a health education and promotion major. Tom was recognized as the top student for the entire department at her graduation. She was also East Carolina’s spring Conference USA Spirit of Service Award recipient.
Tom ended the season second on the team in runs batted in (26) and tied for second in home runs (5) while collecting 34 hits and scoring 23 runs. During the Conference USA Tournament, Tom, an all-tournament team selection, drove in a squad-best four runs in helping East Carolina outscore its opponents 15-1 over the three games. In league contests, she tied for the Pirate lead in runs scored (10) and RBI (10). Her 17 career home runs put her eighth in program history.
Kee Repeats As C-USA Coach-Of-The-Year
For the second-straight season, Tracey Kee was named the Conference USA Coach-of-the-Year. She guided the Pirates to the league regular season and tournament championships and to the 40-win plateau for the sixth time in the past seven seasons. She also reached the 600-career victory plateau with a win over UTEP April 17 and concluded the season with 618 triumphs as the ECU head coach.
Kee is now a four-time coach-of-the-year as she won the award in 1997 in the Big South conference and has taken home the honor in 2005, 2009 and 2010 in C-USA.
Paisley Wins Second Straight Pitcher-of-the-Year Award
Paisley repeated as the Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Year. She was voted the 2010 Preseason Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Year. In only C-USA regular season games, Paisley went 13-2 with a 0.52 earned run average, allowing just eight earned runs in 107.2 innings. She threw 12 solo or combined shutouts and struck out 133 while walking just 20.
Paisley Named Conference USA Tournament MVP
After pitching 19 innings and allowing only one unearned run, Paisley was named the 2010 Conference USA Tournament Most Valuable Player. She completed the event with a 3-0 record, having surrendered only 10 hits and three walks. She also struck out 20 during the three games.
Five Conference USA All-Tournament Picks
Joining Paisley on the Conference USA All-Tournament Team were seniors Gusman-Brown, Vanessa Moreno and Tom, as well as junior Sissy Jimenez. Gusman-Brown tied for the team lead with three runs scored and picked up two hits. Moreno paced the Pirates with four hits and also scored twice. Tom and Jimenez tied for the squad lead with four runs batted in each and combined for five hits.
Paisley Seven-Time C-USA Pitcher-of-the-Week
Seven times in 2010, Paisley was named the Conference USA Pitcher-of-the-Week, tying the mark she reached last year and shares with Southern Miss’ Courtney Blades (2000) for the most weekly honors in a season. Paisley received the award March 1, 15 and 30, April 5 and 19, and May 3 and 10. Paisley has 15 career honors, one short of Houston pitcher Angel Shamblin (2005-08) and DePaul hurler Lindsay Chouinard (2000-03) for the most C-USA career selections.
East Carolina played 42 contests away from Greenville in 2010, going 27-15. In true away games, the Pirates excelled, posting a 19-7 mark, the most road wins of any team in the country.
Dominate The State
The Pirates dominated in-state competition in 2010, going 11-0 and outscoring Campbell, N.C. Central, UNC Greensboro, N.C. State, UNC Wilmington and Elon 71-7.
Paisley and sophomore Faith Sutton threw 10-straight shutouts to begin May. UCF’s first-inning unearned run in the Conference USA Tournament championship game broke the string. The 10 consecutive blankings set the East Carolina program record. The previous best was five from March 1-7, 1992.
Of the Pirates’ 44 wins in 2010, a school-record 33 were shutouts. In 2007 and 1998 ECU had 20 shutouts.
Shutting Out A Series, Three Times
After blanking Memphis in all three games May 8-9, the Pirates became the first team in Conference USA history to shut out opponents in three league series in a season. UCF, Southern Miss and the Tigers all failed to score against the ECU pitching staff.
The Pirates now have four series blankings in the past two seasons as they also shut out UCF during the 2009 campaign. In C-USA history, the only team to not allow a run in two series was Southern Miss in 2000, when the Golden Eagles blanked UAB and Charlotte three times each.