GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina softball team picked up a pair of victories Saturday, topping Canisius 6-2 and Drexel 9-7. A three-run home run and career-high four runs batted in by sophomore Jasmine Robbins and a solo long ball by classmate Abby Wynne lifted the Pirates (3-1) to the victory in the opener. During game two, sophomore Jill Jelnick tallied three hits, two runs batted in and one scored and freshman pitcher Sarah Christian improved to 2-0 in her career.
Against Canisius, freshman pitcher Courtney Smith (1-1) recorded the first victory of her career, going all seven innings and scattering six hits. She struck out two and walked a pair. After allowing four runners to reach base in the first inning, she buckled down to retire 18 of the final 23 she faced. Caroline Main (1-1) took the loss for the Golden Griffins, throwing seven innings and surrendering eight hits and all six runs. She fanned four and walked four.
In game two, Christian threw the first five innings to pick up the win. She issued three walks to go along with eight hits and one hit batter. She surrendered six runs with four earned. Smith pitched the final two frames to seal the victory and earn her first career save. Smith was charged with two hits and a walk in addition to an unearned run. Shelby Taylor (0-2) suffered the loss after allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits and two walks. She fanned two in the three-and-a-third innings pitched. Shyann Beach came in for the next third of an inning, surrendering two runs, neither earned, on two hits and a walk. Hillary Allen finished the game for the Dragons, tossing two-and-a-third innings and giving up an unearned run on three hits and four walks.
During game one, East Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With one out, sophomore Rebecca Lee singled to left field and stole second. Classmate Alex Fieldhouse drew a walk and Robbins plated Lee with a double to the corner in left field that also advanced Fieldhouse to third. A lineout to the shortstop and strikeout ended the Pirate threat.
In the bottom of the first, Canisius took advantage of a hit batter and walk to go ahead 2-1. Lauren Falzone was plunked by Smith's first offering of the game and Lizzy Gatto followed with a walk. Katie Medina singled to center field to drive in Falzone and knot the score. Medina advanced to second and Gatto to third on Robbins' throw home from center field that nearly got Falzone at the plate. After a groundout, Valorie Nappo laid down a suicide squeeze and Gatto came home to give the Golden Griffins the one-run advantage. Smith bounced back to retire Robin Kennery on a groundout and Sonia Aguilar on a strikeout.
Neither team mounted another scoring threat until the top of the fifth, when the Pirates regained the lead at 4-2. After a pop out started the inning, sophomore Kristi Oshiro bunted for a base hit and Lee drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Main recorded a foul out before Robbins hit the Pirates' first home run of the year to clear the bases and provide the two-run lead. It is the second-straight season Robbins has hit the team's first homer of the year. The inning closed on a fly out to right field.
Canisius (1-3) again tried to answer in the bottom of the frame, putting together a two-out rally. Smith had retired 10-straight batters before Gatto and Medina reached on back-to-back singles. A groundout to sophomore shortstop Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, however, allowed Smith to escape without damage.
East Carolina added an insurance run in the top of the sixth as Wynne hit her first career home run, a solo shot to left field with one out.
The Golden Griffins mounted another two-out threat in the bottom of the sixth as Kennery reached on an error and Lauryn Chris drew a walk. Smith again avoided trouble by inducing a groundout back to her in the circle to end the frame.
ECU scored the game's final run in the top of the seventh for the 6-2 final. Consecutive walks to Lee and senior pinch hitter Priscilla Velasquez put runners on first and second with no outs. A groundout to the shortstop by Robbins advanced both runners a base and Lee came home on a single to right field by senior Suzanne Riggs. A pair of strikeouts by Main closed the frame.
Smith allowed a one-out single by Gatto in the bottom of the seventh, but Medina hit into a fielder's choice groundout and pinch runner Chloe Contreras was caught stealing to end the game.
In the second game, East Carolina scored the initial run again, pushing one across in the bottom of the first. Jelnick tripled to the gap in left center with one out and, after a strikeout, scored on a single to left by Robbins.
Drexel had an answer in the top of the second and went ahead 2-1. Sylvia Llamas singled through the left side to start the inning. After a lineout, Caprice DeMirjian singled to left field. A groundout to Oshiro at second moved the runners to second and third with two down. Comfort Ahonkhai swung and had the ball spin off the end of her bat for an infield single that loaded the bases. The Dragons cashed in with a two-out error as Devon Metcalf rolled a grounder to Kaluhiokalani-Glackin, who threw high to first base and allowed DeMirjian and Llamas to score. Christian got out of the inning by retiring Hanna Parrish on a groundout to Oshiro.
In the bottom of the second it was East Carolina with the reply as Riggs hit a two-out solo homer to tie the game at two.
The Dragons (0-4) quickly struck back as Jenn Reading hit a solo home run to center field with one out in the top of the third.
East Carolina responded again in the bottom of the third, this time scoring two runs to take a 4-3 lead. Oshiro started the frame with a walk and, after a fly out, Lee picked up a free pass. A groundout by Robbins moved both runners up a base and Fieldhouse plated the two with a single just over the head of the jumping third baseman DeMirjian. Velasquez followed with a single to center that advanced Fieldhouse to third base. Junior Cicely Lopez hit one hard to the gap in left center, but the Drexel center fielder, Ahonkhai, ranged over and made the catch for the third out.
After keeping the Dragons off the board in the top of the fourth, the Pirates added four more runs to make it an 8-3 advantage. Riggs reached on a fielding error by the second baseman, Llamas, leading off the half inning. After a pop out, Riggs swiped second base and Oshiro singled to right, advancing Riggs to third. Oshiro promptly stole second and was brought home, along with Riggs, on a two-run single to center field by Jelnick. Jelnick was caught stealing, emptying the bases. But Lee was hit by a pitch, Robbins singled through the middle and Fieldhouse drew a walk to load the bases. Velasquez hit a smash to Reading at first base, who could not make the play and Robbins and Lee scored for the five-run lead. A groundout to DeMirjian at third closed the threat.
Drexel got three runs back in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to 8-6. A fielder's choice after a walk, a single and a second free pass loaded the bases with just one out. A single up the middle by pinch hitter Amanda Bachmann plated two runs to make it an 8-5 game. Ahonkhai was hit by the first pitch of her at bat to load the bases and Metcalf delivered the final run of the frame with a sacrifice fly to left. Riggs made the throw home on Metcalf's out, but hit the runner with the toss. A lineout to center field by Parrish ended the half inning.
The Pirates scored once in the bottom of the fifth to extend their lead to 9-6. Riggs led off with a walk and stole second on a strikeout by Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. Oshiro grounded out to the shortstop for the second out and Jelnick followed with another grounder to Metcalf at shortstop. Jelnick beat out the roller for an infield single and Metcalf threw wide to first, allowing Riggs to score. Lee drew another walk, but a groundout by Robbins kept the lead at three.
Smith came in to relieve Christian and sent down the Dragons in order in the sixth. Drexel pushed across a final run in the seventh. Maggy Fermo singled up the middle and Jill Popek followed with a single to right. Jelnick misplayed the ball in right and allowed Fermo to move to third on the play. Maddison Timoteo hit a sacrifice fly to left that drove in Fermo for the game's last tally as Smith ended it with a fielder's choice and groundout.
East Carolina wraps up the opening weekend of play with a 12:00 p.m. contest Sunday against Virginia (4-0).