ECU softball extends winning streak to six

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (ECU) – East Carolina extended its winning streak to six games with a pair of victories on day one of the Liberty Spring Classic at the Liberty Mountain Field. The Pirates knocked off Fairfield, 4-3, before turning around and blanking Yale, 5-0.

ECU is now 10-5 overall while the Stags drop to 1-5 and Bulldogs dip to 3-4.

Despite frigid temperatures and a couple of snow flurries, the Pirates did not commit an error in the two games while the ECU pitching staff struck out 17 batters and walked just one.

Game One
After teams went scoreless in the first two innings, East Carolina jumped on top of Fairfield in the top of the third. Senior outfielder Olivia Narron laid down a bunt single before moving to second on a passed ball. Junior infielder Chandley Garner then drew a one-out walk before she and Narron pulled off a double steal. The ball got away from the infield, allowing Narron to cross home plate and put the Pirates ahead 1-0.

The Stags knotted the score in the bottom of the fourth via a Tahlia Brown RBI single with two outs, but ECU moved back in front with a three spot in the top of the fifth. Senior utility Rachel McCollum hit her fifth home run of the season with one out before Garner was able to walk and score on a pair of wild pitches. Junior infielder Ashleigh Inae crossed home later in the frame on an error, leaving the Pirates with a 4-1 advantage.

Fairfield drew closer in the bottom of the fifth when Megan Forbes clubbed a two-out, two-run home run, slicing the East Carolina lead to 4-3. The Stags attempted to rally in the final two innings, but junior RHP Erin Poepping entered the game and struck out five batters to preserve the win.

Freshman RHP Logyn Estes (6-0) won her sixth-straight decision in the circle to begin her collegiate career, tossing five innings while allowing three runs on seven hits with a career-high eight strikeouts and no walks. Poepping notched her first save of the campaign, throwing the final two frames while scattering three hits and striking out five batters against one walk. Katie Kudlacik (2-3) took the loss after surrendering three runs (two earned) on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts in 4.1 innings.

Narron and McCollum paced the ECU offense with a pair of hits each while Garner drew three walks. Forbes led Fairfield with two hits and two runs driven in.

Game Two
Poepping was handed the ball for the contest with Yale and she quickly set the Bulldogs down in order to begin the game. In the bottom of the first, Narron singled to right field and stole second before advancing to third on a wild pitch with one out on the board. She then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of redshirt senior infielder Tate McClellan to put the Pirates in front 1-0 through one inning.

Garner extended the East Carolina advantage in the bottom of the third, ripping on 0-1 pitch over the fence in right field to score McCollum (leadoff walk) and push the Pirates ahead 3-0.

McCollum kept the offense flowing in the bottom of the fourth, ripping a RBI double to the gap in left center to score Narron who singled and moved to second on a passed ball earlier in the frame.

Yale's only real threat of the game occurred in the top of the fifth when it loaded the bases with two outs. However, Poepping bore down and induced an inning-ending grounder to work out of the jam.

Garner put the exclamation mark on the victory with a RBI single in the bottom of the sixth that made the score 5-0. Junior RHP Kama Woodall finished the job in the top of the seventh, working around a leadoff single to retire the final three Bulldog batters.

Poepping (2-3) went five scoreless innings, striking out one batter and walking none. Woodall threw the final two frames and allowed just one hit. She struck out three batters with no walks. ECU touched up Nic Conway (0-2) for three runs on four hits in three innings to saddle the sophomore with the loss. She walked three and struck out two.

Garner fueled the Pirate offense with two hits, three RBI and a run scored while Narron and Estes provided a pair of hits apiece. Annie Tarte rapped out two hits for Yale.

Up Next: East Carolina returns to the Liberty Mountain Field Saturday at 1 p.m. when it faces off against Butler. The Bulldogs defeated Hofstra 1-0 Friday before falling to Penn by the same 1-0 score later in the day.