ECU Softball Splits Again Saturday Afternoon

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The second day at the Easton Bama Bash provided the same results as the first for the East Carolina softball team as the Pirates (7-5) defeated SIU Edwardsville before falling to No. 2 Alabama. ECU used a three-run first inning and a complete game three-hit performance by freshman pitcher Courtney Smith to top the Cougars 3-1. In game two, the Pirates fell behind the Crimson Tide 5-0 before cutting it to a 5-4 deficit after three innings, but Alabama held on for a 9-4 victory.

Sophomore Alex Fieldhouse provided East Carolina's offense against SIUE (5-6), driving in the first two runs and scoring the third. Alabama's Jazlyn Lunceford, Jackie Traina and Amanda Locke powered the Crimson Tide (11-0) to the victory, combining for eight hits, seven runs scored and six runs batted in. Senior Priscilla Velasquez and sophomore Rebecca Lee each drove in two runs for the Pirates in the tilt.

During the day's first contest, Smith (2-3) turned in the best game of her career, scattering just three hits and allowing a pair of walks. She matched her personal best with three strikeouts and the only run was unearned. Amanda Lambrecht (2-3) suffered the loss for the Cougars, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks. She fanned three and allowed only one hit after the first inning.

In the game against Alabama, freshman Sarah Christian (5-2) took the loss, throwing three-and-two-thirds and allowing eight runs on 10 hits and a walk. She also fanned two. Smith entered for the remaining three-and-a-third frames, giving up five hits, two walks and one run. She fanned one and hit another. Alabama's Leslie Jury improved to 4-0 this season, striking out 12 and surrendering four runs on eight hits. She also hit a batter, but did not issue a walk.

Against SIU Edwardsville, East Carolina scored all of its runs in the bottom of the first. Sophomores Lee and Kristi Oshiro started the inning with consecutive singles and moved to third and second base, respectively, on an illegal pitch. Senior Suzanne Riggs drew a walk to load the bases and Fieldhouse followed with a single to left center that drove in Lee and Oshiro. After a double play left Fieldhouse on second with two outs, Velasquez delivered a single to right field that plated Fieldhouse for the 3-0 advantage. A groundout ended the Pirate threat.

The Cougars tallied their first base runner of the game in the top of the third as Whitney Davis led off with a single to right center. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, but was left stranded after two groundouts.

The Pirates were retired in order in the second and third, but had a threat in the fourth. Sophomore Jasmine Robbins led off with a single through the left side and moved to second on Velasquez's team-leading fifth sacrifice bunt of the campaign. A strikeout and groundout, however, left Robbins on second.

After the defensive hold, SIU Edwardsville scored once to make it a 3-1 contest. Kayla Riggs led off with a single to left field and stole second. After a lineout to right, Paige Sheeder drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Brittany Toney lined out to Oshiro at shortstop, but a fielding error by sophomore second baseman Jill Jelnick filled the bases with two outs. Chelsea Yankolovich cashed in on the opportunity and singled to left, driving in Riggs. Smith worked out of further damage by retiring Alex McDavid on a fly out to left.

Smith sent down the Cougars in order in the sixth and retired Davis on a lineout to start the seventh, but Sheeder reached on a fielding error by Fieldhouse. Smith quickly completed the victory as Toney grounded into a double play. Oshiro fielded the ball hit up the middle, stepped on second base for the force out and threw to first in time to retire Toney and end the contest.

Against Alabama, the Crimson Tide jumped on East Carolina in the first inning for the second-straight game, scoring three times for a 3-0 lead. After a groundout started the contest, Lunceford reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on a single to center field by Traina. Locke followed with a double to right center that drove in Traina for a 2-0 edge. Christian retired Kaila Hunt on a fly out to right field, but Danae Hays singled to left center and delivered Locke for the three-run cushion. Hays tried to steal second, but was thrown out by Lee to end the inning.

The Crimson Tide added two more runs in the top of the third to make it a 5-0 edge. Lunceford got the offense going again, reaching on a leadoff walk. After Traina lined out to a leaping Jelnick at second, Locke singled up the middle and moved to second on the throw to third, putting runners on second and third with one out. Hunt rolled a grounder to third baseman Kai Clark, who fielded it and threw home, but Lunceford slid under the tag to score. Hunt was called out for leaving first base early, but a single by Hays plated Locke before a fly out to left center ended the scoring.

East Carolina had an answer in the bottom of the inning, scoring four times to make it a 5-4 game. Sophomore Jordan Lewis was hit by the first pitch of the inning and Clark followed with the Pirates' initial hit of the game, a single to center that moved Lewis to second. Jelnick then sent a changeup into right field for a single to load the bases with no outs. Lee delivered the first two runs with a single into left field that left runners on first and second. Following a strikeout, Fieldhouse singled to left center to refill the bases for Velasquez, who singled to left to drive in Jelnick and Lee. Jury rebounded with a pair of swinging strikeouts to end the threat.

In the top of the fourth, the Crimson Tide got three runs back to push its lead to 8-4. With one down, Jennifer Fenton singled to center field, stole second and came home on a two-out double by Traina. Locke followed with a two-run home run to left center. Smith entered for Christian and allowed a single and walk before a groundout closed the inning.

Alabama had runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the sixth, but a 10-pitch battle between Hays and Smith resulted in a fly out to Lewis in right center, keeping the score 8-4.

The Pirate defense held and then the offense mounted a threat of its own, but could not score. After a pop out started the bottom of the sixth, freshman pinch hitter Sara Pacioni tallied the first hit of her collegiate career with a single to center field. Robbins re-entered to run for Pacioni and advanced to second when Hays, who was covering the bag, dropped a throw from Danielle Richard at third on a Lewis fielder's choice. Lewis was safe at first on the play. Jury avoided damage again with two strikeouts to end the rally.

The Crimson Tide had the answer again in the top of the seventh, scoring once for the 9-4 final. Smith struck out the initial batter of the frame, but Jordan Patterson was hit by a pitch and Richard and Fenton hit consecutive singles to load the bases. Lunceford reached on an infield single to plate Patterson, but Traina grounded into a double play to close the inning.

Jury retired the first two Pirates in the seventh, with the help of a diving catch of an Oshiro liner by Richard, before Fieldhouse singled to left. Sophomore Abby Wynne entered to pinch run and moved to third on a fielding error by Hays that also allowed Velasquez to reach first base. Riggs swung at the first pitch of her at bat and flew out to right to end the contest.

East Carolina wraps up the Easton Bama Bash on Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. contest against North Dakota State (7-5).

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