GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – ECU never trailed Sunday in the Pirate Clash finale and capped off an undefeated weekend with a 6-3 triumph over Wagner at a damp ECU Softball Stadium.
The Pirates improve to 8-1 overall – the program’s best start to a season since 2006 when that team rolled off eight-straight wins to start the campaign – while the Seahawks drop to 1-3. ECU also extended its current winning streak to five.
Sophomore Tyler King went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI to pace the offensive charge while classmate Ashleigh Inae tallied two hits a run scored and a RBI. Kaila Smith led Wagner with two hits, a run scored and three driven in.
In the circle, sophomore RHP Whitney Sanford (2-1) picked up the win as she tossed six innings allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and a strikeout. Fellow sophomore Erin Poepping entered the game in the top of the seventh and put up a scoreless frame to post her first save of the year. Kayla Hooks was tagged with the loss after surrendering six runs (all earned) on 10 hits with three walks and a strikeout.
After a pretty calm first two innings, the Pirates broke through in the bottom of the third. Junior Olivia Narron singled down the left field line before stealing second. King then laced an 0-1 offering into right field for a RBI single before taking second base on her eighth swiped bag of the season and moving to third on a grounder. Redshirt junior Tate McClellan extended the ECU advantage with a RBI groundout before the frame came to a close.
An Inae leadoff triple in the bottom of the fifth led to a RBI single by junior Logan Wood that afforded the Pirates a 3-0 cushion. However, the Seahawks were able to knot the score in the top of the sixth on a Smith three-run home run that followed a leadoff infield single and a walk.
Unfazed, the Pirates answered right back. Senior Morgan Halo pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the sixth and drew a full-count walk. Junior Abigail Umphlett re-entered the game on the base paths and moved to second on a Narron infield single. King then delivered with a first-pitch double into the right center gap, giving ECU the lead back at 5-3. Inae tacked on a RBI single that plated King to leave the Pirates with a three-run edge heading to the top of the seventh.
Poepping fanned Kyleigh Norris looking to kick off the inning before Zoe Bender came up with an infield single. Karen Prihoda also struck out looking to put ECU one out away from the win, but Wagner stayed alive with consecutive singles to load the bases. Smith, representing the go-ahead run, battled to a 2-2 count before succumbing with a grounder back to Poepping who tossed the ball to first to end the contest.
The Pirates continue their current homestand next weekend, welcoming Seton Hall, Boston College and JMU to the ECU Softball Stadium for the Pirate Invitational.
Notes: ECU improved to 2-0 all-time against Wagner with both victories occurring this weekend … The Pirates are now 112-95 at the ECU Softball Stadium since the facility opened in 2011 … ECU has rapped out double-digit hits in six of nine games this year and are out-scoring opponents 67-36 – including 21-2 in the fourth and fifth innings combined … The Pirates are 6-0 after holding a lead after four innings … ECU has stolen 19 bases in just nine games this season, more than half of its total from 2018.