GREENVILLE, N.C. – After suffering an 8-0 loss in game one of Saturday’s Conference USA doubleheader, East Carolina rebounded to post a 3-2 win in the nightcap and salvage a split with Marshall at the ECU Softball Stadium. The Pirates (22-26, 8-11) improved their home record to 14-6 and have won six of the last seven games played in Greenville. The Herd is now 31-18 overall and 12-7 in league play.
Freshman pitcher Sarah Christian picked up her 16th win of the campaign in the second contest with a complete-game effort to improve to 16-15 while classmate Courtney Smith took the game one loss in six innings to fall to 6-11. Christian shut Marshall down through the first six innings of game two, scattering three hits before the Herd made it interesting with two runs on four hits in its final at bat. Smith surrendered 10 hits in the opener and was charged with seven of Marshall’s eight runs as the ECU defense committed a pair of errors in the fifth inning.
Sophomore outfielder Jasmine Robbins drove in two runs in the second game with a first-inning double off the right center field wall before sophomore infielder Kristi Oshiro tacked on what proved to be the game-winning run with a two-out base knock in the second frame. Robbins has now recorded six RBIs in her last six appearances.
In the victory, East Carolina recorded all three of its runs with two outs on the board and has scored 18 of its last 25 runs with two away.
After the teams combined for just one hit through the first two innings of the first contest, Marshall broke onto the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the third frame. With one away, Taylor Thompson singled and advanced to second on a Melissa Loesing sacrifice bunt. Alianna Telles then singled to short, pushing Thompson to third. Samantha Spurlock pinch ran for Telles and proceeded to score second before Ashley Gue came through with a single to right field which scored Thompson and Spurlock. Gue would get thrown out on the play, however, in an attempt to advance to second on a throw to the plate.
Jazmine Valle doubled to begin the fourth inning and was replaced by Emileigh Cooper on the base path. Cooper would reach home quickly thereafter when Rebecca Gamby singled to extend the Herd lead to 3-0. Smith escaped further damage by inducing a groundout, infield popup and swinging strikeout to end the threat.
Marshall broke the game open in the fifth, taking advantage of four hits and two East Carolina miscues to make it a 7-0 contest. Thompson grounded out to begin the frame, but Loesing would reach base on an error by the Pirate first baseman. After a Telles single and Gue sacrifice bunt, Valle and Gamby put together back-to-back doubles which brought in three runs. Hively then singled to second base while Gamby scored on a Kristi Oshiro throwing error to home, completing the inning’s scoring.
The final Herd run came in the sixth. Thompson drew a leadoff walk and stole second before moving to third on a Loesing sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch then plated Thompson to push the Marshall advantage to 8-0.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, sophomore Jill Jelnick broke up Herd pitcher Andi Williamson’s no-hit bid with an infield single. Jelnick would steal second with two outs, but senior Suzanne Riggs popped out on the infield to end the run-rule shortened game.
In the nightcap, Christian worked around her own one-out throwing error in the first to retire Valle and Gamby and keep it scoreless. After Natalee Pulver induced a groundout and strike out by Oshiro and Jelnick in the bottom of the inning, senior Priscilla Velasquez drew a walk and moved to second on a Jordan Lewis single. Robbins came through on the next play, hitting the ball to deep right center to drive in Velasquez and Lewis.
After Christian set down the Herd in order in the second, the Pirates conjured up more two-out magic when sophomore Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin poked an infield single past Pulver in the circle. She would steal second before Oshiro roped a single to left field to score her teammate. ECU proceeded to load the bases but Lewis popped up to Valle to eliminate the threat.
The Pirates threatened again in the fourth, but with two outs and runners on first and second, Lewis grounded out to first. Marshall responded in the top of the fifth when Hively drew a leadoff walk, but pinch runner Amanda Lara would be stranded at third as Spurlock grounded out to Oshiro.
A pair of one-out singles by Riggs and sophomore Alex Fieldhouse in the fifth could have spelled trouble for the visitors, but junior Kai Clark popped into a double play to end the inning as Fieldhouse was erased trying to tag up at first base.
A quiet sixth frame gave way to dramatics in the seventh inning as Hughes and pinch hitter Bri Anna Hope recorded singles to put runners on first and second with no outs. Thompson would sacrifice them to second and third on a bunt but Jessica Ferrick popped up to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin for the first out and kept the runners in place. Telles smashed a double to deep right that nearly carried out for the game-tying home run, but it bounced high off the wall, limiting her to two RBIs. Gue then singled and advanced to second when the Pirates threw home, but Telles held at third base. Valle nearly found a hole with a liner to the left side which would have tied the contest or given the Herd the upper hand, but Fieldhouse was there to snag the ball and preserve the one-run victory.
East Carolina looks to take the series from Marshall tomorrow with a 12:00 p.m. first pitch at the ECU Softball Stadium. The Pirates will honor seniors Riggs and Velasquez before the game.