ECU Softball sweeps doubleheader to open Florida trip

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (ECU) – After rallying for a 6-5 extra-inning win over Long Island in its first game of the Parent’s Weekend Tournament Friday afternoon, the ECU softball team downed host FAU 12-5 in the evening to complete a doubleheader sweep at the FAU Softball Stadium. The Pirates improve to 13-6 overall with the two victories while the Blackbirds drop to 11-7 and the Owls to 9-10.

Rachel McCollum had quite the day at the dish, posting five hits, three runs scored, six RBI and two home runs during the twinbill. She was 4-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBI in the win over FAU. Tate McClellan notched two hits in each game and drove in a pair against Long Island. Additionally, Tyler King extended her hitting streak to 15 and was 2-for-4 with three RBI, a run scored and a double versus the Owls. She has reached base safely in all 19 games this season.

As the designated home team in the opener, ECU struck first in the bottom of the first inning. King singled to lead off before stealing second. Asheleigh Inae drew a walk and McClellan ended up doubling to plate Inae and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead through one complete. The Blackbirds loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second, but Erin Poepping slammed the door shut with a pop up on the infield, a fielder’s choice force out at home and a grounder to first.

ECU kept the upper hand until the top of the fifth when Long Island plated a run off a Kiana Cisneros RBI single to knot the score at one. The Blackbirds then took the lead in the top of the sixth with an unearned two-out run.

Unfazed, the Pirates responded in the home half of the sixth. McCollum and McClellan hit back-to-back home runs to give ECU a 3-2 advantage. However, Long Island capitalized on another defensive miscue to start the top of the seventh and eventually tied the game with another two-out unearned run.

With the international tiebreaker in effect and a runner on second to begin the top of the eighth, Camryn Lyman singled up the middle to make it a 4-3 contest and Samantha Garcia added another with a two-out RBI single of her own to leave her team with a 5-3 cushion.

Abigail Umphlett began the bottom of the eighth on second base and reached third on a fielding error at the base. Olivia Narron followed with a RBI single to cut the Blackbird lead down to 5-4. After King moved the runners up to second and third with a groundout, Inae stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game or give the Pirates the win. She chose the latter, doubling down the left field line and scoring both of her teammates to secure ECU’s third walkoff victory of the season.

Poepping (9-3) picked up the win in her ninth complete game of the year, allowing five runs (three earned) on 10 hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Elena Valenzuela (5-3) took the loss, surrendering three runs (two earned) on two hits with a walk in 1.1 innings of work. Patricia Griffin was 2-for-5 with a run scored and a RBI for Long Island.

A McCollum RBI single had the Pirates off to a quick 1-0 lead in the nightcap against FAU, but the Owls manufactured a run in the home half to deadlock the score.

With two outs and no runners on in the top of the second, Narron drew a walk and stole second before moving to third on a wild pitch. King then walked to put runners on the corners before Inae dropped a single into left field to score Narron and give the upper hand back to ECU. McClellan then walked to load the bases, setting up heroics from McCollum who drove a pitch over the wall in right field for a grand slam and a 6-1 Pirate advantage.

ECU extended the lead in the top of the fourth with three runs on three hits and an Owl error, moving in front 9-1. Kendra Ziemba notched a RBI single while a wild pitch and Pearson Yopp RBI groundout accounted for the other scores.

FAU plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth to avoid the run rule, but the Pirates answered with a three spot in the top of the sixth to grab a 12-3 cushion. A Faith Jarvis single and Ziemba double kicked things off and Narron reached on a fielding error to load the bases with no outs. King left little doubt in her next at bat, ripping a three-run double to center field.

The Owls again scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to extend the game to the final inning. They ran out of chances, however, as Whitney Sanford posted a scoreless bottom of the seventh to end the contest.

Poepping (10-3) started the game and was credited with the win after tossing two innings and allowing just one run on one hit. Sanford pitched the final five innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Mia Olson (3-6) was tagged for five runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 1.2 innings of work as the losing pitcher. Samantha Lageyre was 2-for-3 with three RBI to lead FAU’s offensive efforts.

ECU continues play Saturday when it heads south to Miami for a pair of games against Florida A&M (Noon) and host FIU (6:45 p.m.) at Felsberg Field.