SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The ECU softball team pounded out 20 runs on 22 hits to post a doubleheader sweep of Youngstown State and Miami of Ohio on day one of the Spartan Classic in Spartanburg, S.C. on the campus of USC Upstate. The Pirates defeated the Penguins 11-4 in their season opener before turning right around and notching a 9-1, five-inning triumph over the Redhawks.
Redshirt junior Tate McClellan led the offensive charge with three hits, two runs scored, three walks and seven RBI in the two contests while sophomore outfielder Tyler King went 5-for-7 with six runs scored and four stolen bases. ECU clubbed four home runs in the sweep – a pair by McClellan in the first game and one each from senior Morgan Halo and junior Logan Wood. Redshirt junior Rachel McCollum, who transferred in from Campbell University, was 3-for-5 with two RBI in her Pirate debut against Youngstown State.
Sophomore Whitney Sanford (1-0) recorded the win over the Penguins, allowing three runs on five hits with six walks and four strikeouts in six innings of work. Her classmate Erin Poepping (1-0) went the distance versus Miami, surrendering just one unearned run on two hits with five strikeouts and no walks in five innings pitched.
Nikki Salbene paced Youngstown State with two hits and a RBI while Ashton Slone mustered the only RBI and one of only two hits for Miami (Ohio).
The season opener got off to a nice start when King drew a four-pitch walk and classmate Ashleigh Inae was hit by the first pitch she saw. McClellan then stepped up and drilled a 2-0 pitch over the wall in dead center to give ECU an early 3-0 advantage. Youngstown State responded in the home half, scoring three runs on three hits and a pair of walks to knot the score after one complete.
The Pirates had a prime chance to take the lead back in the top of the second when Inae and McClellan drew consecutive walks and redshirt junior Rachel McCollum smoked a line drive single to third base to load the bases. However, a looking strikeout ended the frame.
After McCollum turned a slick double play to erase the Penguins in the bottom of the third, McClellan went yard for the second time in as many at bats in the top of the fourth to give ECU a 4-3 advantage before Halo joined the party and drilled her first homer of the season with two outs to leave the Pirates ahead by two. YSU was able to load up the bases in the bottom of the frame, but Sanford came through with her second strikeout of the day and ECU held on to the lead.
The Pirates broke the game open in the top of the sixth, plating five runs on five hits to pull ahead 10-3. Sophomore Kendra Ziemba provided two of the runs with a double to left center while McCollum, Inae and junior Logan Wood recorded RBI base knocks of their own.
McCollum tacked on a RBI single and sophomore Liv Garman made her ECU debut in the circle in the bottom of the seventh, allowing one run to account for the final score.
The Pirates continued their hot offensive start in the bottom of the first inning against Miami (Ohio). King bounced a leadoff single up the middle before stealing second and reaching on another infield single off the bat of Inae. McClellan then delivered again, ripping a double to right field to put ECU on top 2-0.
Keeping it rolling in the bottom of the second, the Pirates received a leadoff walk from freshman Bailey Ledvina. Two consecutive singles by Narron and King plated one run before Inae laced a double to left center to make the score 4-0. Halo topped things off with a sacrifice fly later in the inning to see ECU carry a 5-0 advantage into the third.
With two outs in the top of the third, Ashton Slone put the Redhawks on the board with a RBI single but Poepping was unfazed and induced a grounder to first to end the half inning. McClellan responded with a RBI groundout in the bottom of the fourth to re-establish the Pirates’ five-run lead.
After Ziemba walked to open the bottom of the fifth, senior Ashley Weingartz singled through the left side to bring up pinch hitter Wood who deposited a pitch well over the fence in center field to seal the run-rule victory.
ECU is back in action Saturday with a single contest against Towson at 5 p.m.
Notes: ECU won its season opener for the sixth time in the last seven seasons …The Pirates improved to 3-0 against Youngstown State and 2-1 versus Miami of Ohio … ECU scored its most runs in a season opener since 2000 when it defeated Alabama 12-11 in Raleigh … The Pirates put together consecutive double-digit hit efforts for the first time since recording 10 each in a pair of games against Houston April 23-24, 2018 … ECU started a campaign 2-0 for the first time since 2016.