GREENVILLE, N.C.– Freshman Kelsi Briggs hit a first inning three-run home run to spark the East Carolina softball team (10-21) to a 5-2 victory in the first game, before the Pirates fell 5-3 in the second game of a thrilling split doubleheader to North Carolina State (14-14-1) on Wednesday, March 27, at ECU Softball Stadium. The first-game victory snapped a five-game losing streak for East Carolina.
Sophomore Sarah Christian (8-9) earned the victory in the first game in throwing her eighth complete game of the season. She allowed just four hits and two runs with six strikeouts. Emily Weiman (12-13) was the first-game loser. She allowed five runs (one earned) in six innings with 10 strikeouts.
The Pirates jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the opening inning of game one. Junior Jill Jelnick singled up the middle, moved to second and then third as junior Kristi Oshiro reached and then took second on a fielding error from the Wolfpack first baseman off her sacrifice bunt. After the next two were retired in order, Briggs unloaded with her first career home run to plate all three runs and set an early tone in the game.
ECU added a pair of runs to the advantage in the third inning. Junior Alex Fieldhouse hit a one-out home run just over the wall in left field. The blast was her sixth of the season. Junior Jordan Lewis then walked, stole second and moved to third on the throwing error from the N.C. State catcher on her steal. Lewis quickly scampered home with the second run of the inning and fifth of the game on a wild pitch.
The Wolfpack answered with a run in the fourth inning. Chelsea Tate tripled down the right-field line and scored on Caitlin Dent’s ground out to second.
N.C. State drew a run closer in the sixth on Tate’s two-out home run to left field, but that was as close as the game would get in a 5-2 ECU victory.
North Carolina State tallied the first run in the opening inning of the second game. Tate reached on a single and took second on the Dent’s single to center. On the play, Meredith Mitchell’s attempt to smother the ball in center field came up short, as the ball squirted past to allow Tate to score all the way from second.
ECU took its only lead of the game with two runs in third inning on Jelnick’s triple. Senior Kai Clark walked to start the frame. Junior Chelsea Kaluhiokalani-Glackin was inserted to run for Clark, moved to second and then third on some aggressive base running off Mitchell’s bunt single. Mitchell took second as the trail running on the attempted play on Kaluhiokalani-Glackin. Jelnick then followed with a triple to score both runs. North Carolina State prevented further damaged as Dent threw out Jelnick attempting to score on a fly ball to centerfield on the ensuing play.
The Wolfpack wrestled the lead back with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Hannah Sommer began the frame with a single. Haley Stowe ran for Sommer and moved to second on a Leah Jones single. After a walk to Lana Van Dyken to load the bases, Sara Lippard doubled in both Stowe and Jones. After a walk and fielder’s choice ground out, Tate drove in the next run with a sacrifice fly.
N.C. State added an insurance run to the lead in the fifth inning on a Bethaney Wells home run.
The Pirates drew a run closer in the bottom of the frame. Mitchell singled up the middle, moved to second on a bunt and scored on Oshiro’s double off the top of the wall in left.
ECU threatened and brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. Jelnick reached on a one-out infield single. Oshiro switched places with her on a fielder’s choice ground out, before a fly out ended the game and the Pirates’ hopes in the contest.
Sophomore Courtney Smith (1-9) entered the game in the second inning and went the rest of the way for ECU with four runs allow on seven hits and four walks. Christian started for the Pirates and surrendered one unearned run in her inning in the circle. Chelsea Stanfield (2-1) won the game with 4.1 innings worked and three runs allowed on seven hits. Weiman earned her first save of the season with 2.2 innings out of the bullpen with only a hit allowed and two strikeouts.
East Carolina gets back on the road next and travels to El Paso, Texas for a three-game conference series from March 29-30. The Pirates will play a pair of games on Friday, March 29, starting at 4 p.m. (ET). East Carolina will then wrap up the conference set with a 2 p.m. (ET) contest on Saturday, March 30.