The East Carolina softball team used a stellar effort from freshman Suzanne Riggs in the circle as they took out No. 16 North Carolina 3-2 in game two of a doubleheader at Anderson Stadium in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels took game one 3-1. The Pirates improve to 25-16 on the season while North Carolina fell to 33-7-1.
North Carolina received a leadoff home run from Breanna Brown to take a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning. The Tar Heels then had runners on first and second with no outs but ECU starter Brooke Swann retired the side to get out of the inning.
North Carolina threatened again in the bottom of the third. However, with Cassie Palmer on second with one out, Danielle Spaulding flew out to center as Christina Merrida threw Palmer out at third.
The Pirates drew even in the top of the fourth. With one out, Erin St. Ledger hit a towering shot to the deepest part of the park that cleared the fence for her fifth long ball of the season. She is now tied with Stacey Andrews and Jessica Johnson for the team lead.
The Tar Heels loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, but St. Ledger snagged a ball up the middle and stepped on second for the third out. North Carolina finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth, using two doubles to score two runs and take a 3-1 lead. East Carolina could not put a run on the board in the last two innings as the final score stood at 3-1.
Swann suffered her 12th loss of the season, but threw her 16th complete game of the year. She gave up three earned runs on six hits while striking out six for her second consecutive contest. Sarah Bibee earned her first hit of the year on a pinch-hit single in the top of the seventh.
The Pirates struck first in game two. Merrida singled to lead off the game and advanced to second on the throw to first. After Kaui Tom put down a sac bunt, Vanessa Moreno belted a pitch off of the light pole in left center field to give ECU a 2-0 lead.
The Tar Heels used a two-out single from Jennifer Jacobs in the bottom of the first to score Brown, who singled to lead off the inning. With Jacobs on second, Suzanne Riggs struck out Lisa Norris to end the inning.
With the Pirates ahead 2-1 in the bottom of second, Alyssa Francona smashed a one-out home run to right center to tie the contest. However, East Carolina singled three consecutive times to push a run across in the top of the third to retake the advantage 3-2. Merrida, Tom and Moreno were responsible for the hits as Merrida scored the run. Merrida then saved a hit in the bottom of the third with a spectacular grab at the left center wall.
North Carolina threatened in the bottom of the fourth but with runners on first and second with two outs, Riggs threw out Brown at first to end the inning. The Tar Heels mounted another rally in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs, but Riggs induced a ground ball to third that Aona threw to first to help the Pirates escape the inning unscathed. Riggs completed the upset as she closed the deal in the bottom of the seventh.
The Pirates return home for the first time since Mar. 16 as they host C-USA rival Marshall for a three-game set this weekend. The series begins with a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the ECU Softball Field.