GREENVILLE, N.C. - The East Carolina softball team started off the 2009 season by defeating Virginia and Middle Tennessee on day one of the ECU Invitational. The Pirates downed Virginia 9-1 in the first contest of the day with redshirt sophomore Toni Paisley picking up the win. It was Paisley's first victory on the mound since March 8, 2008, after which she was shelved for the season due to an injury. In game two, ECU beat Middle Tennessee, 3-1. Freshman Caitlin Wainright earned the first win of her career after coming in for senior Brooke Swann at the beginning of the third inning.
In game one against Virginia, the Pirates converted three hit batters and a Cavalier error in the top of the first inning into two runs. ECU went on to score four more runs in the top of the second to take a 6-0 lead. That would prove to be the only runs East Carolina would need as Paisley shut down the Virginia offense, allowing just one run on three hits.
Senior Jessica Johnson drove in three of the first six runs and classmate Angel Barrella was credited with the only other RBI in the first two frames. East Carolina continued to tack on runs in the early innings with junior Cristen Aona scoring on a throwing error by the Virginia catcher in the top of the third.
The Pirates were kept off the board until knocking in another run in the top of the sixth when junior Marina Gusman-Brown smashed a home run to left center field, leading to an 8-0 advantage. The Cavaliers responded in the bottom half of the frame, scratching across their only run on a Giannina Cipolloni RBI single.
ECU scored its final run of the game in the top of the seventh when a wild pitch pushed across sophomore Jillian Gallagher.
The second contest of the day, against Middle Tennessee, had the Blue Raiders getting out to the early 1-0 lead when Brittany Banania walked with the bases loaded in the top of the second. The Pirates answered in the bottom half of the inning as Gusman-Brown led off with a single, advanced to second on a Barrella sacrifice bunt and scored to knot the game at one each on a single up the middle by junior Kaui Tom.
After stranding a Blue Raider runner on third base to end the top of the third inning, East Carolina used a bases loaded single by Barrella to score the only other two runs of the contest and take a 3-1 advantage.
In the circle, Wainrigt held the Middle Tennessee offense in check, allowing just three hits and striking out four in her four-plus innings of work. After giving up a leadoff single in the seventh, Paisley came in for Wainright and shut down the Blue Raiders in order, earning the save.
The Pirates continue play at the ECU Invitational tomorrow with a game at 12 p.m. against Middle Tennessee and later against Virginia at 2 p.m.