GREENVILLE, N.C. – The East Carolina softball team used two more solid pitching efforts and some late offensive heroics to defeat Ohio 6-2 and Maine 3-2, advancing to the championship of the Pirate Invitational. The Pirates now stand at 8-2 on the season, having won four straight contests.
The Bobcats put up the first scoring chance in the fourth inning when Melissa Bonner led off with a singled and advanced to third on two wild pitches. However, ECU used two groundouts and a fielder’s choice play at home to keep Ohio off of the board. The Bobcats then loaded the bases in the fifth with one out but again failed to plate a run when another fielder’s choice out at home and an absolutely spectacular diving grab by Christina Merrida in center field ended the threat.
The Pirates finally broke through in the sixth, piling up six runs on five hits and one Ohio error. Vanessa Moreno helped the cause with a three-run double with no one out. Charina Sumner also chipped in with a two-out, two-RBI double while Moreno scored off of an error by the Bobcats’ shortstop. Ohio would put two consolation runs on the board in the seventh, providing the final margin.
Freshman Britt Howell turned in her second complete game of the season while running her record to 3-0. She allowed seven hits while striking out five.
Facing the Black Bears for the right to move into the championship game against Boston College, East Carolina drew first blood. Cristen Aona produced a two-out double that scored Jessica Johnson, who had reached second on a walk and a Erin St. Ledger single.
Maine responded in the third. Spangler stepped up with two outs and ripped a double to center. Waters then followed with a long ball that just cleared the center field fence, giving the Black Bears a 2-1 advantage.
The Pirates were able to knot the score at two in the bottom of the fourth when Paige Baggett singled to begin the inning. Kaui Tom then reached on a fielder’s choice, advancing pinch runner Jillian Gallagher to second. After Gallagher advanced to third on a Stacey Andrews groundout, she was able to score when Sumner flied out.
ECU put up the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth. Johnson laced a one-out single up the middle and was replaced by Suzanne Riggs. Riggs was able to reach second when St. Ledger walked. Moreno then singled, bringing home Riggs and giving the Pirates the winning score. Brooke Swann recorded two of the last three outs, keeping Maine from tying the game.
Swann, like Howell, threw her second complete game in as many days as she improved to 3-1 on the year. The junior scattered seven hits while also striking out seven. St. Ledger was 2-for-3 in the contest, improving her team-leading average to .429.
East Carolina finishes the Pirate Invitational tomorrow as it squares off against Boston College in the championship game at the ECU Softball Field at 11 a.m. The Bobcats and Black Bears will meet at 9 a.m. in the consolation tilt.