ECU Softball drops both ends of doubleheader to UCF

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – UCF secured an American Athletic Conference series sweep in Greenville Saturday, downing East Carolina 5-3 and 7-2 in a doubleheader at the ECU Softball Stadium.

The Pirates (19-17, 1-5 AAC) out-hit the Knights (26-9, 6-0 AAC) 6-5 in the opening contest, but a three-run home run in the first inning proved the difference. Whitney Sanford (7-6) allowed four runs on three hits with three walks and a strikeout in the loss while Alea White (17-6) picked up the win in relief after tossing the final 3.1 innings and giving up no runs or hits.

Rachel McCollum went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI while Tate McClellan and Ashley Weingartz also drove in a run each. Aubrey Johnson collected two hits and a RBI for UCF and Jazmine Esparza drove in three runs.

A hit by pitch and a walk led the game’s first runs in the top of the first when Jazmine Esparza took a pitch over the left foul pole to stake UCF to a 3-0 lead. The Knights loaded the bases in the top of the third and cashed in with a Brooke Barlow RBI groundout to build a 4-0 cushion heading into the bottom of the inning.

The Pirates broke through in the bottom of the third with a pair of runs. McClellan sent a ball to center with the bases loaded that resulted in a sacrifice fly before Weingartz singled down the left field line to score McCollum. ECU crept closer in the bottom of the fourth with a run via a McCollum RBI single that sliced the Knights’ edge to just one. The Pirates could not complete the comeback, however, as the Knights capped the scoring with a run in the top of the sixth.

In the nightcap, East Carolina out-hit UCF for the second-straight game – this time 8-6. Tyler King, Olivia Narron and Weingartz each rapped out two hits. King and Logan Wood drove in a run apiece. Tamesha Glover was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three driven in for the visitors.

Erin Poepping (12-11) was tagged for seven runs on six hits in the setback. Alea White (18-6) nabbed her second victory of the day, this one in a complete game as she limited the Pirates to two runs on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

The Knights pulled ahead 3-0 in the top of the first on the strength of three hits and an ECU error. The Pirates then pulled a run back in the bottom of the second when Wood hit a towering home run to left center. Cassady Brewer answered the long ball with one of her own in the top of the third to extend the UCF lead back to three runs at 4-1.

A three-run home run off the bat of Glover in the top of the fifth essentially put the game out of reach, giving the Knights a 7-1 cushion. An RBI single by King in the bottom of the fifth proved to be the contest’s final tally.

ECU returns to the field next weekend with a three-game AAC series at USF.