SPARTANBURG, S.C. (ECU) – Facing a five-run deficit in the second inning, the ECU softball team responded by scoring 14 unanswered runs, including 12 in the fourth inning alone, on the way to a 14-5 five-inning victory over Towson on day two of the Spartan Classic on the campus of USC Upstate.
The Pirates recorded their second-straight win by the run rule and improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2016. Towson fell to 2-2 after falling to ECU and dropping a 6-4 decision earlier in the day against host USC Upstate.
Sophomore Tyler King continued her torrid start to the season, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI as well as her fifth stolen base of the campaign. She is hitting .727 (8-for-11) with eight runs scored, a double, two RBI and five stolen bases in her first three games. Redshirt junior Rachel McCollum also produced an impressive stat line with three runs scored, four RBI and a three-run home run that gave the Pirates the lead for good. An additional quartet of ECU batters enjoyed multi-hit performances in sophomore Ashleigh Inae (2-for-3), junior Kendra Ziemba (2-for-3), senior Ashley Weingartz (2-for-3) and junior Abigail Umphlett (2-for-4). Umphlett pounded out the first two doubles of her collegiate career and made her first start at catcher. Redshirt junior Tate McClellan drew three walks and scored two runs in addition to rapping out a hit and driving in a run.
Kendall Arcia was 1-for-2 with a RBI for the Tigers.
Sophomore Erin Poepping (2-0) secured the win in relief as she tossed 3.1 scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit and striking out one batter. Melissa Abrahamian (0-1) was tagged with the loss for Towson after allowing seven runs (six earned) on three hits with two walks in just a third of an inning of work.
After ECU starting pitcher and sophomore Whitney Sanford tossed a perfect first inning, King and Inae led off the home half with consecutive singles before McClellan drew a walk to load the bases. The Pirates were unable to cash in the opportunity, however, as a pop up on the infield and consecutive strikeouts terminated the threat.
In the top of the second, Nicole Stockinger drew a leadoff walk and Lindsey Toneygay took advantage of an ECU error to put runners at first and second. Another walk loaded the bases and Towson proceeded to score five runs on three hits and the miscue to take a commanding 5-0 advantage.
A double off the bat of Umphlett led to the Pirates’ first run of the day when King doubled to right field with two outs and sliced the Tiger lead to 5-1. Poepping then kept the deficit at four by retiring Towson in order in the top of the third.
King and Inae kick-started the bottom of the fourth inning for ECU by rapping out consecutive singles. McClellan then deposited a single into right field and King crossed home after a throwing error by the Tiger right fielder. McCollum stepped up next and tagged the first pitch she saw over the left field fence to put the Pirates ahead for good at 6-5. When the dust cleared, ECU had scored 12 runs in the inning on eight hits and three errors to put itself in position for the run-rule win.
Towson attempted to rally in the top of the fifth as its first two batters reached base safely. McCollum stifled the Tigers’ momentum, however, turning her second unassisted double-play of the weekend to essentially seal the contest. Poepping slammed the door shut, inducing a grounder to second for the final out.
The Pirates close out their stay at the Spartan Classic Sunday with a pair of non-conference bouts. ECU takes on Miami of Ohio at 11 a.m. before battling USC Upstate at 3 p.m.
Notes: The Pirates improved to 17-1 all-time against Towson … ECU picked up a quality win as the Tigers won 42 games a season ago and ended the year 86th in the RPI after qualifying for the National Invitational Softball Championship … The Pirates have recorded double-digit hits in three-straight games for the first time since notching 13, 12 and 10 respectively against North Florida, Yale and Morgan State in 2016 … McCollum hit her 41st career collegiate home run in the fourth inning … ECU has out-scored its opponents 24-1 in the fourth through seventh innings so far this season ... The Pirates scored double-digit runs in an inning for the first time since putting 10 on Hampton in the fifth inning of a 12-0 win on April 7, 2010.