USF edges ECU Softball, 4-3

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TAMPA, Fla. (ECU) – USF secured its second-straight American Athletic Conference series victory Saturday night with a 4-3 win over East Carolina at the USF Softball Stadium.

Nicole Doyle (8-10) threw a complete game to earn the victory for the home team, allowing two runs on three hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Whitney Sanford (7-7) was tagged with the loss after surrendering four runs on four hits in just two innings pitched. She walked four batters and did not record a strikeout.

Five different Pirates notched a hit while Pearson Yopp and Courtney Layton drove in two and one run respectively. AnaMarie Bruni led the Bulls with two hits while Bethaney Keen posted a pair of RBI.

After the Pirates went down in order in the top of the first, lightning and rain arrived in the area and caused a nearly two-hour weather delay. The Bulls took advantage of a pair of two-out walks that led to Keen driving a ball to the gap in left center to score both runners and put USF on top 2-0.

ECU scored its first run of the series in the top of the second. Logan Wood led off with a double and moved to third on a grounder. Ashley Weingartz then drew a walk before Layton unloaded on a pitch and doubled to the wall in left center to drive home pinch runner Sydney Griggs. The Pirates had two runners in scoring position with one out, but a looking strikeout and a weak liner to short helped Doyle limit the damage.

The Bulls added to their lead in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of consecutive walks to begin the inning. Brooke Hartman drove in a run with a RBI single with one out and a fielder’s choice play left USF with a 4-1 cushion before the frame closed.

After the scoring settled down in the middle innings, East Carolina made one last push in the top of the seventh. Ashleigh Inae, Weingartz and Layton all reached base with one out before Yopp sent a pitch through the left side to score two and slice the Bulls’ edge to just one at 4-3. The final two Pirate batters could not push the tying run across, however, as USF held on.

The series finale is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.