CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – After slipping past Kent State 3-2 in the first game of the day, the East Carolina softball team dropped a 5-2 decision to North Carolina in the championship contest of the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill. The Pirates finish their first weekend of play at 4-2 while the Tar Heels improve to 5-0 and the Golden Flashes sit at 2-3. Sophomores Cristen Aona, Toni Paisley and senior Erin St. Ledger were named to the all-tournament team.
Kent State went ahead in the second inning of the morning game when Jamie Fitzpatrick drew a leadoff walk. Corey Houk then stepped to the plate and got just enough of the ball to send it over the center field fence, giving the Golden Flashes an early 2-0 lead.
Kent State threatened to add to its advantage in the fourth when Jessica Carmichael singled in the infield to begin the inning. However, Kaui Tom made a spectacular play to erase Carmichael at second and throw to first in time to complete a double play.
East Carolina responded in their half of the fourth when Jessica Johnson and St. Ledger blasted back-to-back long balls to draw their team even at 2-2. With one out, Sissy Jimenez singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch but she would go no further as Beth Nolan struck out to end the threat.
St. Ledger proved the Pirates’ hero in the bottom of the sixth when she hit her second dinger in as many at bats to give ECU the winning 3-2 margin.
Paisley won her second consecutive contest, pushing her record to 2-1 and earning her third complete game of the season. She scattered three hits and struck out four, moving her within 13 strikeouts of sixth-place on the career chart. St. Ledger finished 2-for-3 with the two home runs.
North Carolina went ahead 3-0 in the championship game, plating runs in each of the innings off of six hits. The Pirates drew within one in the fourth inning when Vanessa Moreno singled with one out, driving in Charina Sumner and Christina Merrida, who had led off the inning with two singles.
The Tar Heels put the game away in the fifth, scoring two runs on three hits to provide the final margin.
Junior Brooke Swann threw three innings while Britt Howell and Paisley combined to finish the contest. Swann allowed two earned runs on six hits while striking out four. Her record now stands at 1-1 on the early season. Howell and Paisley both struck out one.
East Carolina returns to action on Friday as it opens up the home portion of the schedule. The Pirates host the Pirate Invitational at the ECU Softball Field, the first of three consecutive home tournaments. Boston College serves as the first opponent for ECU as the contest is scheduled for 2 p.m.