ECU Softball Holds Off Hofstra

GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina held on for a 4-3 victory over Hofstra Monday evening and ended the season-opening home stand with a 5-3 record. The Pride scored twice in the top of the seventh and had two runners on when the final out was recorded. Pirate sophomores Alex Fieldhouse and Jordan Lewis combined for four hits, two runs batted in and one scored to pace the offense while freshman pitcher Sarah Christian improved to 4-1.

Christian tossed the first four innings and came back in for the final three outs to earn the victory. She allowed six hits and did not walk a batter, but hit one. Freshman Courtney Smith recorded six outs in the fifth and sixth frames and surrendered three runs, two earned, on four hits and a walk. She also struck out two. Hofstra’s Olivia Galati (0-2) took the loss after giving up two earned runs on six hits. She struck out five and hit one batter.

The Pride (0-3) put two runners on in the top of the first, but a fly out to right field by Jess Hirschbuhl left Rachael Senatore on third and Tessa Ziemba on first. In the top of the second, Galati led off with a double. With one down, she advanced to third on a groundout to second by Tori Rocha, but was stranded when Krista Thorn flew out to right.

East Carolina tallied its first hit of the game in the bottom of the second and scored a pair of unearned runs to take a 2-0 lead. Fieldhouse got it started with a leadoff single up the middle between Galati’s legs. After sophomore Jasmine Robbins battled for nine pitches and flew out to right field, senior Priscilla Velasquez put down a sacrifice bunt, advancing Fieldhouse to second. Ziemba helped the Pirates score their first run as she dropped a fly ball to right field by senior Suzanne Riggs. A Lewis single to center field put runners on the corners. Lewis broke for second and slid in safely under the tag and Riggs came home to give ECU a 2-0 edge. A strikeout swinging closed the frame.

The Pirates struck again in the bottom of the third for a 3-0 lead. Sophomore Kristi Oshiro led off with a single to left, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by classmate Jill Jelnick and came home on a two-out single to left center by Fieldhouse. Robbins followed with another single, just over the head of the Hofstra first baseman Hirschbuhl, putting runners on first and second. Velasquez sent a deep fly ball to left field, but Michelle Lavagnino came up with the catch, crashing into the wall.

In the top of the third, the Pride mounted a two-out rally but was again held off the board. Courtney Crews singled to left field and Rocha dropped down a bunt that Fieldhouse could not handle, putting runners on first and second with two down. Christian avoided damage as Thorn grounded out to Fieldhouse on the first pitch.

Smith entered for Christian in the top of the fifth and registered two outs before the Pride put two runners on as Becca Bigler drew a walk and Ziemba doubled off the wall in left center, advancing Bigler to third. Smith recorded her second strikeout of the inning to close the frame as Hirshbuhl was called out on a check swing.

Hofstra got one run back in the top of the sixth to make it a 3-1 game as an ECU error led to the tally. After a lineout, Crews recorded her second-straight single to left field, moved to second on a groundout and came home on a ground ball that sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin could not handle. A groundout to Oshiro allowed Smith to avoid more trouble.

East Carolina immediately answered in the bottom of the sixth with a run to give the Pirates a 4-1 advantage. Robbins was hit by a pitch to start the frame, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Velasquez, her team-leading fourth sacrifice hit of the year, and scored on a two-out double to left by Lewis. A groundout by junior pinch hitter Cicely Lopez closed the threat.

The Pride made things interesting in the seventh with two runs for the 4-3 final. Lavagnino grounded a single through the right side and Bigler homered to left center before an out was recorded. Christian re-entered and retired Ziemba on a groundout before Hirschbuhl singled to right field. Galati popped up to Oshiro in shallow right center, but Crews picked up her third single of the contest with a rope to center field that put runners on first and second. Christian sealed the victory with a fielder’s choice off the bat of pinch hitter Erin Trippi. Kaluhiokalani-Glackin fielded the ball in the hole and flipped to Fieldhouse covering third base to get the force on Hirschbuhl and end the game.

East Carolina returns to action Friday for its first road contests of the season. The Pirates head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take part in the Easton Bama Bash. ECU opens the weekend Friday facing SIU Edwardsville (5-3) at 2:30 p.m. and the host Crimson Tide (7-0) at 5:00 p.m.

Post-Game Notes
-- Senior Suzanne Riggs stole her fourth base of the season, just one swipe shy of her single-season career high, set last year.
-- Sophomore Alex Fieldhouse registered her sixth two-out RBI of the season in the bottom of the third. As a freshman last year, she drove in six runs with two down.
-- The Pirates improved to 4-0 with sophomore Rebecca Lee as the starting catcher.
-- East Carolina has won four-straight games against Hofstra after dropping the series opener in 1994.
-- ECU has a .311 batting average (23-of-74) with two outs and has registered 17 RBI with two down. Opponents are being held to a .214 average (15-of-70) and have driven in just a pair of runs with two outs.

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