ECU Softball Knocks Off Tulsa

GREENVILLE, N.C – Junior Jordan Lewis homered and drove in four to power East Carolina’s softball team (15-24, 5-7 C-USA) to a thrilling 6-4 victory over No. 20/18 Tulsa (31-9-1, 11-1 C-USA) on Sunday in the final game of the series. The win over a ranked team was the first for the Pirates since the 2010 season against Texas in the NCAA Regional. ECU also snapped Tulsa’s 11-game winning streak in league play this season with the victory.

Sophomore Courtney Smith (3-10) started and went the first five innings for the Pirates. She allowed three runs (two earned) while striking out two and going without a walk. After surviving a sticky situation in the seventh, fellow sophomore Sarah Christian earned her first career save with two innings worked and two strikeouts. The loss was tagged on Lacey Middlebrooks (13-3). Middlebrooks surrendered all six runs (four earned) in 3.2 innings in the circle. She allowed just three hits, but walked five and was limited to two strikeouts.

Besides tying her career-high with four RBI, Lewis also drew a pair of walks and scored twice. She has now successfully reached base in 31 of her last 34 games. Junior Alex Fieldhouse also scored twice and drew three walks for ECU.

The Pirates had a 6-0 lead after four innings, but the pesky Golden Hurricane were able to score two runs in the fifth, a run in the sixth and another tally in the seventh inning. Tulsa even brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the seventh in the person of the league’s leading RBI hitter, Samantha Cobb, with runners on second and third. Christian was able to induce a two-out ground out to the shortstop though to give ECU the victory.

The seventh inning started innocently enough with a strikeout and foul out, but the next three hitters reached on singles with the last hit by Jill Barrett driving in Cierra Hughes from second to cut the ECU lead to just two runs. Both runners were able to move up a base on the attempted play at the plate, but Christian kept calm and was able to get the grounder to short to end the contest.

Lewis helped the Pirates jump out to an early lead with her three-run home run to the opposite field in the opening inning. Junior Kristi Oshiro singled and moved to second as Fieldhouse drew a four-pitch walk. Both scored as Lewis hit her fourth home run of the season. Three of her four home runs have gone to the opposite field this year.

The Pirates added a pair of runs to the lead in the bottom of the third inning. Fieldhouse reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on Lewis’ walk. A throwing error by the pitcher allowed freshman Casey Alcorn to reach and Fieldhouse to score from second. Lewis moved to third on the play and scored as Alcorn stole second and she stole home.

ECU started a two-out rally in the fourth inning. Junior Jill Jelnick reached on infield base hit to the shortstop. Oshiro, Fieldhouse and Lewis then drew three straight walks to drive in Jelnick with the team’s sixth run of the game.

Tulsa quickly plated a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning. Haley Henshaw reached on an infield single and scored on Julie Kernan’s home run to right-center field.

The Golden Hurricane drew a run closer and also brought the potential tying run to the plate in the sixth. Caitlin Everett reached on a lead-off bunt single. Barrett moved her to second as she reached safe on an error by the ECU defense. After a foul out to the outfield moved Everett to third, she later scored on Middlebrooks’ RBI single.

ECU next heads to Huntington, West Virginia to take on Marshall in a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. The Pirates wrap up the series against the Thundering Herd with a noon contest on Sunday.