Poepping lifts ECU Softball over St. Francis, 7-5

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – Sophomore RHP Erin Poepping fanned a career-high 10 batters and redshirt junior Rachel McCollum hit a grand slam as ECU held off 2018 NCAA Regional participant Saint Francis (Pa.) 7-5 on day two of the Pirate Clash Saturday at the ECU Softball Stadium.

McCollum ended the contest 2-for-2 with two runs scored and five RBI while sophomore Tyler King and junior Abigail Umphlett posted a hit apiece and drove in a run. Mikayla Bower and Hayley Norton paced the Red Flash with three hits each.

Poepping (6-0) surrendered 13 hits and five runs, but only two were earned and she walked just one batter in addition to the 10 strikeouts. She tossed her fourth complete game of the season. Christina Clark went the distance for Saint Francis, allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

After a scoreless first inning, junior Logan Wood led off the bottom of the second with a walk before freshman Sydney Griggs replaced her on the base paths. Griggs moved to second on an Ashley Weingartz sacrifice bunt and scored when McCollum drove the first pitch she saw to left field for a double. Umphlett added a RBI single and King capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to leave the Pirates ahead 3-0 after two complete.

The Red Flash tied the score in the top of the third with a trio of unearned runs. Jordan Frank provided two of them with a two-out, two-run single and Cheyenne McKee was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded earlier in the frame.

An error to lead off the bottom of the third proved costly for the visitors as ECU quickly loaded the bases with no outs following consecutive singles by Wood and Weingartz. McCollum left no doubt, taking a 1-1 pitch deep over the wall in left field to give the Pirates a 7-3 advantage before the inning closed.

Saint Francis crept closer, scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth frames, but Poepping struck out a pair of Red Flash batters in the top of the seventh, stranding the tying run at first base to end the affair.

The final day of the Pirate Clash features a pair of games. Saint Francis and Cleveland State will face off Sunday at 9 a.m. before ECU battles Wagner at approximately 11:30.

Notes: The Pirates improved to 3-7 against Saint Francis in the all-time series … Poepping has won six-straight decisions to open the season, moving to 19-16 in her young collegiate career … ECU is off to its best start (7-1) to a season since opening the 2006 campaign with eight-straight victories … McCollum clubbed her 42nd career home run in the third inning … The Pirates have hit a grand slam in consecutive contests … Poepping is the first ECU pitcher to record double-digit strikeouts since Lydia Ritchie fanned 13 in a 5-1 victory over IPFW back on March 13, 2016 in Clearwater, Fla.