GREENVILLE, N.C. – Behind dominant pitching and an abundance of power strokes from the offense, the East Carolina softball team won its third straight game and swept a Conference USA doubleheader against Southern Miss on Saturday afternoon at the ECU Softball Stadium.
The Pirates won game one, 8-0, in a five-inning run rule victory, before claiming the second matchup of the day, 5-1. Junior pitcher Sarah Christian (13-5) tossed a one-hit shutout while walking one and striking out two in the first win, while junior Caroline Umphlett (5-3) fired a three-hitter, walking none and allowing just one run in seven innings, as she recorded a career-high five strikeouts.
Redshirt junior Abby Wynne combined to go 4-for-6 with a home run, triple and two singles, as well as three runs, two RBI and a stolen base on the day. Sophomore Casey Alcorn hit a grand slam and had five RBI, senior Jordan Lewis went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBI and senior Alex Fieldhouse also amassed three hits, three runs and drove in one.
East Carolina (19-13, 8-6 C-USA) got the day started by striking first in the bottom of the second inning in the first game, when Lewis led off with a solo home run to left center field for her team-leading ninth long ball of the season. The homer was the 23rd of the Fremont, Calif., native’s career and fifth in her last seven ballgames.
Just one inning later, Wynne crushed a 1-2 pitch well beyond the 220-foot marker one the centerfield wall for a two-run homer to extend the ECU lead to 3-0.
Christian got into a groove in the circle, as she allowed Southern Miss’ (19-20, 7-7 C-USA) lone hit of the game with one out in the fourth inning, in addition to retiring eight-straight and nine of the first 10 batters.
ECU put the game away with a five-run effort in the bottom of the fifth inning following back-to-back, one-out triples by Wynne and Fieldhouse to improve the advantage to four. The Pirates then loaded the bases, as a result of an error by the Golden Eagles and a walk to Jill Jelnick. That was when Alcorn sent an 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for her first-career grand slam and fifth home run of the season, effectively ending the game, 8-0.
Wynne finished the contest 2-for-3 with a pair of runs and two RBI, while Lewis was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and a stolen base, and Alcorn went 1-for-3 with four RBI.
Much like game one, the Pirates got the offense going in the bottom of the second inning in the second contest of the day after back-to-back, one-out singles by Fieldhouse and Lewis. A sac bunt by Jelnick and a Southern Miss throwing on the same play scored Fieldhouse, before Alcorn hit a sacrifice fly and senior Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin hit a two-out RBI single to center to give ECU an early 3-0 edge.
After the Golden Eagles pushed a run across in their next at-bats in the top of the third, the Pirates picked up two more runs on a two-run double by Lewis with one out in the bottom half of the inning to give East Carolina a 5-1 lead and round out the scoring.
It was all Umphlett for the final four-plus frames, as no Southern Miss hitters reached base for the duration of the game and she retired the final 13 batters, consecutively, en route to her fifth victory of the season.
The two teams will close out the series on Sunday, April 6 with first pitch scheduled for 12 noon, at the ECU Softball Stadium.