ECU softball soars to doubleheader sweep in Fresno

Published: Mar. 7, 2020 at 8:40 PM EST
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Behind an offensive explosion of 25 runs and 30 hits, East Carolina rolled to a doubleheader sweep of UC Davis and BYU on day two of the Bulldog Classic at the Margie Wright Diamond on the campus of Fresno State University. The Pirates run ruled the Aggies 15-4 in five innings in the morning before returning to the field in the afternoon and thumping the Cougars, 10-4.

The Pirates improve their overall record to 13-9 heading into Sunday’s tournament finale against North Dakota State. First pitch for that contest is scheduled for noon.

Game One (UC Davis)

East Carolina produced the first scoring chance of the contest in the bottom of the first. Junior infielder Ashleigh Inae singled with one out before redshirt senior utility Rachel McCollum drew a walk. The pair advanced up a base following a passed ball, but a strikeout and fly ball to left field terminated the threat.

UC Davis (14-11) jumped on top in the second with a one-out solo home run, but the Pirates responded with a vengeance in the home half of the frame. Freshman RHP Logyn Estes drew a walk and sophomore infielder Bailey Ledvina put down a bunt single before senior catcher Abigail Umphlett moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Freshman outfielder Sydney Yoder kept the line moving with an RBI single to knot the score at one and senior outfielder Olivia Narron laid down a bunt single of her own. Inae then laced a double to center, clearing the bases and putting ECU in front 4-1. Another Pirate run came across on an error, but East Carolina was not nearly done. Junior infielder Chandley Garner doubled to left to plate sophomore outfielder Faith Jarvis while redshirt senior infielder Tate McClellan and Umphlett added RBI singles. When the dust cleared, the Pirates had scored eight runs on eight hits to assume an 8-1 advantage.

The dangerous Aggie lineup kept things interesting in the middle innings, scoring three runs to pull within 8-4. However, East Carolina unleashed another huge frame to end the game early. In the bottom of the fifth, Inae singled to right center before McCollum drilled an 0-0 offering over the wall in center to extend her hitting streak to 11 games and push ECU ahead 10-4. Estes made it 11-4 with an RBI single before Umphlett drew a walk to load the bases. Yoder provided the story book ending, belting a grand slam over the fence in center for her first career home run.

Inae and Yoder were a pair of terrors at the plate, combining for six hits, eight RBI, a double and a home run. Yoder accounted for five RBI after entering the contest with none to her credit. Alyse Rojas and Maddie Rojas rapped out a pair of base hits apiece and posted three home runs between them.

Estes (7-2) picked up the win, tossing four innings and allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Kenedi Brown (4-5) was the losing pitcher, surrendering six runs (five earned) on five hits with two walks and a strikeout.

ECU scored its most runs since putting 16 on Stony Brook during the 2017 campaign and recorded its most hits since an 18-hit outburst against Connecticut in 2016.

Game Two (BYU)

Inae picked up right where she left off in the first game, lacing a one-out single into left field in the top of the first, but she would be stranded. BYU (14-9) took an early lead in the bottom of the first. Rylee Jensen-McFarland led off with a walk and later scored on a Martha Epenesa two-out RBI single.

The East Carolina offense exploded in the top of the second, plating seven runs on five hits and a Cougar error. McClellan began the frame with a moon-shot home run over the left field wall to knot the score at one. After an Estes single and Yoder walk, Narron beat out a ball on the infield for a single, allowing Estes to score and give ECU the lead. Inae followed with a two-run double into the gap in right center and she would score on a single up the middle off the bat of McCollum. Garner put the exclamation point on the inning with a two-run shot to right field, leaving the Pirates in front 7-1.

The fireworks continued in the bottom of the second when Bridget Fleener reached on a fielding error and Morgan Bevell lined a two-run home run just over the wall in left field. Junior RHP Kama Woodall relieved classmate and RHP Erin Poepping in the circle at that point and got two quick outs, but three-straight singles led to another BYU run and the Cougars sliced their deficit to 7-4 before a grounder to first ended the inning.

Yoder kept her breakout day going in the top of the third, scalding an RBI single to left field to propel East Carolina in front 8-4. BYU threatened yet again in the home half, putting two runners on base, but Woodall worked out of the jam to keep the Pirates ahead by four. ECU loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the fourth and Ledvina cashed in on a fielder’s choice play to score pinch runner Sydney Griggs and stretch the Pirate edge to 9-4.

With Woodall settling in, McCollum christened the sixth inning with a solo homer to dead center as East Carolina extended its cushion to 10-4. That’s the way the day would end as Woodall limited the Cougars to two base runners over the final two frames.

Woodall (3-2) picked up the win in relief, tossing six solid innings. She scattered seven hits and allowed just one unearned run while striking out three BYU batters against just one walk. Autumn Moffat (7-4) was tagged with the loss after the Pirates touched her up for seven runs (one earned) on six hits with a walk and no strikeouts.

A total of five East Carolina batters finished with two hits each while McCollum and Garner tallied a pair of RBI apiece. Estes also scored two runs. Epenesa paced the Cougars with two hits and a run driven in while Bevell drove in a pair with her first career home run.

ECU out-hit the Cougars 13-9 in defeating BYU for the first time ever. East Carolina scored six of its runs with two outs and notched four extra-base hits.