GREENVILLE, N.C. – Seven players drove in runs and nine picked up base hits as the East Carolina softball team defeated Delaware 15-1 Friday in the Pirates’ home opener. Junior Sissy Jimenez and freshman Cicely Lopez led the offense with three runs batted in each while Lopez tallied three hits and senior Cristen Aona scored four runs. The win improves ECU to 3-7 while the Blue Hens fall to 2-4.
Junior Toni Paisley (3-4) earned the win as she threw a perfect three innings, striking out six, including the first three of the game. In her last start against Florida Sunday, Paisley retired the final 14 hitters, bringing her streak of consecutive batters retired to 23 straight. Sophomore Faith Sutton went the final two frames, giving up an unearned run on three hits.
Delaware’s Amanda Stacevicz (0-3) took the loss as she surrendered seven runs on five hits in three innings. She also struck out two.
After leaving a runner stranded at third base in the top of the first, East Carolina started the offensive show in the second inning, taking a 5-0 lead. Aona led off with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Priscilla Velasquez. Following a Jimenez walk, Lopez sent a single into center field that drove in Aona. Senior Kaui Tom grounded into a fielder’s choice, but classmate Charina Sumner came through with two outs and hit a double into the gap in right center to score Lopez. Senior Christina Merrida tacked on two more for a 4-0 advantage with a single to left field that plated Tom and Sumner. It was the second time in Merrida’s career she had a two-RBI game, but first since her freshman season.
Merrida scored the final run of the inning when the shortstop dropped the ball on a steal attempt by freshman Kai Clark, who had drawn a walk. The five-run frame was the Pirates’ highest-scoring inning this season.
ECU did not slow down in the third, adding two more runs. Aona started the frame with a walk and Velasquez singled to right. A sacrifice bunt by Jimenez moved the runners to second and third with one out. Lopez sent a hard ground ball to the shortstop who fielded it but threw wildly to first. Aona scored on the grounder, but the bad throw also allowed Velasquez to cross home for a 7-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, East Carolina drove in three more runs to take a 10-0 advantage. With one out, Clark singled to extend her hitting streak to five games. Aona drew a two-out walk and Velasquez singled to right to fill the bases. Jimenez drove in all three with a double to the gap in right center, giving her a career-high three RBI game.
The Blue Hens got their first hit in the bottom of the fourth when Sutton entered and Jenny Richards led off by doubling over Merrida’s head in center field. Sutton rebounded to retire the next three batters in the frame.
The top of the fifth inning saw East Carolina career firsts occur as senior Nicole Jordan and sophomore Suzanne Riggs picked up their initial base knocks as Pirates. Three-straight singles by Jordan, Sumner and Merrida loaded the bases with no outs. Clark drove in her team-leading sixth and seventh runs with a single up the middle for a 12-0 lead. Riggs followed with her first RBI as her single to center field plated Merrida. After a pair of outs, senior Tiffany Shaw delivered an RBI infield single. Lopez completed the scoring as a shot down the left-field line drove in Aona. The four runs scored for Aona made her the first Pirate to cross home four times in a game since Mandi Nichols against Coppin State Feb. 25, 2005.
Delaware’s tally came in the bottom of the fifth as a passed ball allowed Cecile Egan to score.
East Carolina continues the Pirate Classic tomorrow with a doubleheader against Towson and Morehead State beginning at approximately 2:00 p.m.