ECU Offense Explodes In Sweep Of N.C. Central

CARY, N.C. - The East Carolina softball team used 27 runs and 26 hits to defeat N.C. Central 10-0 and 17-0 Wednesday afternoon at Thomas Brooks Park. The Pirate pitchers combined to allow only three hits in the two contests to go along with the offensive show. The pair of wins moved ECU to 13-11 while dropping the Eagles to 5-21.

Sophomore Priscilla Velasquez led the way in game one, hitting a two-run home run and finishing with a career-high three runs batted in and two scored. In the second contest, senior Cristen Aona (3), junior Sissy Jimenez (3) and sophomore Suzanne Riggs (4) all drove in at least three runs to pace the offense. Riggs joined senior Marina Gusman-Brown as the only Pirates to drive in four runs in a game this season. Every starter but one picked up a base knock and seven finished with multiple-hit efforts.

Junior Toni Paisley (8-7) picked up the victory in the opener as she allowed just one hit and struck out nine while earning the 27th shutout of her career, tying her with Jami Bendle for the fourth most in ECU history. The nine strikeouts increased Paisley’s total to 665 in her career, pushing her past Courtney Blades for sixth all-time on the Conference USA list. Kayla McPeek (2-6) took the loss for N.C. Central after surrendering 10 runs, five earned, and nine hits.

In the second game, sophomore Faith Sutton (5-4) recorded the win as she gave up two doubles while striking out five. Aurora Baker (1-3) was saddled with the loss as she allowed 10 runs on 10 hits in two-plus innings of work. Michelle Ishida went the final three innings, surrendering seven runs on seven hits.

The Pirates started quickly in game one, scoring seven runs on four hits in the top of the first inning. Gusman-Brown led off with a single and stole second base. Classmate Christina Merrida reached on a throwing error by the shortstop, which advanced Gusman-Brown to third. Merrida stole second and senior Charina Sumner drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Freshman Kai Clark followed with a sacrifice fly to center field that Nadia Jefferies dove and caught. The dive, however, allowed both Gusman-Brown and Merrida to score.

Velasquez followed with a double to left field that drove in Sumner for a 3-0 lead. After an infield single by Aona and freshman Cicely Lopez reaching on an error, the bases were reloaded with one out. Senior Nicole Jordan, making her first career start, drew a walk to drive in Velasquez. Senior Kaui Tom singled up the middle, plating Aona and Lopez for a 6-0 advantage. Gusman-Brown came up again and hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Jordan for the inning’s final tally.

In the top of the second, Velasquez struck again, hitting a two-run home run to left field, making the score 9-0. It was actually an inside-the-park homer as the outfield fences were 300 feet away and the ball rolled all the way to the base of the wall.

East Carolina tacked on its final run in the top of the fourth for a 10-0 lead as Merrida led off with a single, stole second base and scored on a one-out single to left center by Jimenez.

The Eagles tallied their only base hit in the bottom of the fourth as Ishida singled with one out. Ishida’s ball hit off Paisley’s leg and rolled away for an infield hit.

Paisley retired N.C. Central in order in the bottom of the fifth to complete the game.

In the second contest, the Pirates put together a two-out rally in the top of the second to take a 2-0 lead. Jordan singled up the middle and Jimenez followed with a double to put runners on second and third with two down. Riggs sent a soft single into center field that drove in both runners.

N.C. Central’s Shakemia Edwards hit a one-out double in the bottom of the second, but was left on base following a groundout and foul-out.

The Pirates broke the game open in the top of the third inning, scoring 14 runs to make it 16-0. Gusman-Brown and Merrida led off with back-to-back singles. Merrida then stole second to put runners on second and third with no outs. Sumner sent a double to left center that drove in the pair and put the Pirates ahead 4-0. Clark drew a walk before Aona singled up the middle to plate Sumner. Jordan picked up the second free pass of the inning to load the bases with no outs.

Jimenez sent a single into right field that plated Clark. The right fielder misplayed the ball, allowing Aona to also score and make it a 7-0 advantage. Riggs came through with another single to drive in Jordan before Tom singled to right field, plating Jimenez. A Gusman-Brown sacrifice fly to center field scored Riggs and put ECU up 10-0.

Clark walked with the bases loaded to plate another run. Aona singled up the middle and drove in Sumner and Merrida. Jimenez doubled to left center scoring Clark and Aona. Riggs ended the high-scoring frame with a single to right field that plated Jimenez.

Gusman-Brown hit ECU’s second home run of the day, and ended the team’s scoring, in the top of the fourth when her ball rolled to the bottom of the wall in left field.

Sutton gave up a double to Andrea Searls in the bottom of the fifth, but closed the game with a pair of groundouts.

The Pirates return home this weekend, hosting Marshall (15-14, 1-5 C-USA) for a three-game Conference USA series. The teams play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1:00 p.m. and wrap up the weekend Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest.

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