AUSTIN, Texas - The East Carolina softball team dropped a 1-0 decision to BYU at Red and Charline McCombs Field in its first game of the NCAA Tournament Austin Regional. The Cougars (44-11) scored the game's only run in the bottom of the fourth when Jessica Purcell-Fitu was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run. East Carolina senior Marina Gusman-Brown picked up two of the Pirates' (42-17) four hits in the contest.
Junior Toni Paisley (30-10) suffered the loss despite giving up just five hits and a pair of hit batters. BYU entered the NCAA Tournament with the second-highest team batting average in the country at .339. Paisley struck out five in the game and held the Cougars to their fewest runs scored since a 9-1 setback to No. 8 Arizona State March 12.
Paige Affleck (31-8) picked up the victory and snapped East Carolina's 11-game winning streak as she allowed only four hits, one walk and two hit batters. She also struck out six. It was the first shutout the Pirates had suffered since being blanked 5-0 by UAB April 10.
Through the first three innings, East Carolina sophomore Priscilla Velasquez was the only base runner for either team as she was hit by a pitch in the top of the third.
The Pirates recorded the first hit of the game in the top of the fourth when Gusman-Brown dropped a single into center field. She stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher, but was left stranded on a groundout by classmate Cristen Aona.
In the bottom of the inning, the Cougars scored the game's lone run when Purcell-Fitu was hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Kristin Delahoussaye led off with a single to left center for BYU's first hit of the evening. Mountain West Freshman-of-the-Year J.C. Clayton followed with a bunt single that advanced Delahoussaye to second. Paisley recovered to retire Angeline Quiocho on a fly-out and Andrea Ramirez on a foul-out, but hit the next two batters to force in Delahoussaye.
BYU had a chance to add more runs in the bottom of the fifth, but could not push one across. Jessica Dugas reached on an infield single with one out. After a strikeout, Dougas stole second. Clayton followed with a single off the glove of a jumping Aona at third base, but Quiocho struck out looking to end the threat.
East Carolina had its best scoring opportunity in the top of the sixth. Senior Charina Sumner hit a one-out double off the base of the wall in left center and classmate Christina Merrida followed with a four-pitch walk. After a groundout to first by senior Vanessa Moreno, Gusman-Brown hit a hard ground ball to Clayton at shortstop. Clayton could not make the play, but Merrida was called out for interfering with Clayton, ending the inning.
The Pirates got a one-out single from junior Sissy Jimenez in the top of the seventh, but a fielder's choice and groundout closed the game.
East Carolina plays at 6:00 p.m. Friday against the loser of tonight's Texas vs. Iona contest.