BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A two-run shot in the fifth inning by freshman Charina Sumner gave the East Carolina softball team a lead it would not relinquish as the Pirates defeated UAB 3-2 Saturday afternoon at George Ward Park in Birmingham. With the victory, ECU improves to 29-14 overall and 7-5 in Conference USA while the Blazers fall to 26-20 and 7-7 in conference play. The win also ensures that the Pirates will remain second in the conference standings.
Offense was nearly absent in the first four innings, as the teams combined for just four total hits. The ECU bats finally awoke in the fifth as the Pirates recorded four hits and three runs in the inning. Cristen Aona led off with a double and was replaced at first by pinch runner Stacey Andrews. Sumner then blistered a pitch over the right field wall to give ECU the 2-0 advantage. Christina Merrida then singled to right and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Jessica Johnson. After Erin St. Ledger reached first and Merrida advanced to third on a throwing error, Bibee pinch ran for St. Ledger. Vanessa Moreno increased the Pirate lead to 3-0 on an RBI-single.
ECU starter Toni Paisley, who would eventually earn the win, allowed UAB to score twice when she walked Andrea Rogers with the bases loaded and then hit Nicole Tumlin, also with the bases loaded. Keli Harrell was then summoned to quell the Blazers' rally and she did just that, inducing a strikeout and a fly-out from the next two batters.
UAB threatened in the bottom of the seventh, but Harrell dashed the Blazers' hopes when she threw out Kayla Harris at first with the bases loaded to end the game.
Paisley ran her record to 12-4 with five of those wins coming within conference play. The freshman allowed four hits while striking out seven. Harrell recorded her first save of the season, working through two bases-loaded jams. The senior hurler allowed two hits and struck out five in relief of Paisley.
The Pirates will battle their final non-conference opponent Wednesday as the squad travels to Wilmington to face the UNCW Seahawks in a doubleheader. The first contest is scheduled for 4 p.m.