Halo's late homer helps ECU Softball evens series at Wichita State

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WICHITA, Kan. (ECU) — East Carolina snapped Wichita State’s six-game American Athletic Conference winning streak Friday with a 3-2 victory at Wilkins Stadium.

The Pirates have won two of their last three league contests and improved to 21-24 overall and 3-11 in AAC play. The Shockers dipped to 27-20 and 8-6.

Erin Poepping (14-16) was the winning pitcher, tossing her 18th complete game of the season. She struck out 10 batters and allowed just one earned run. Erin McDonald (11-10) was tagged with the loss, surrendering one run on one hit in two innings of relief.

Tyler King was 2-for-4 with a run scored while Halo drove in all three of ECU’s runs. A total of five Wichita State batters ended up with a hit each and Sydney McKinney recorded the only RBI for her squad.

Wichita State was able to plate the game’s first run in the bottom of the second when, with a runner at first and two outs on the board, a fly ball was dropped in center field allowing Bailee Nickerson to score unearned. McKinney then put the home team up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI double, scoring Adi Reese who hit a one-out single.

In the top of the sixth, King led off with a single before Ashleigh Inae drew a walk on a 3-2 count to put the Pirates in business. After a foul out accounted for the first out, Halo wasted no time and drove the first pitch she was offered over the wall in right center to catapult East Carolina into the lead at 3-2.

The Shockers threatened to answer right away in home half of the inning when Madison Perrigan walked and Laurie Derrico singled on the infield. However, a fielder’s choice force out at third and a 3-6 double play let the Pirates escape with the lead intact. ECU attempted to add to its lead in the top of the seventh, getting a pair of runners in scoring position with two outs, but a grounder to third terminated the half inning.

Pinch hitter Lauren Mills drew a leadoff walk to give Wichita State some life in the bottom of the seventh. A sacrifice bunt moved Mills into scoring position, bringing up another pinch hitter Bethany Canada who ended up flying out to right field. McKinney then worked a full count, but Poepping was up to the task, freezing her with a pitch right down the middle that sealed the Pirate comeback victory and gave the sophomore hurler her 10th strikeout of the day.

The teams will meet Saturday for the rubber match of the series which is scheduled for a noon ET start.