JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 28, 2012) – After suffering a pair of one-run heartbreakers to Western Carolina at the season-opening Georgia State First Pitch Classic in early February, the ETSU softball team had a chance to redeem itself on Wednesday night.
The Bucs did just that and a lot more thanks to strong pitching performances by sophomore right-hander Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) and senior righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.).
Wolff started the pitching surge by tossing a four-hit shutout in the 1-0 game one win over the Catamounts, and Morris followed that up with her first collegiate shutout as the Bucs completed the sweep with a 7-0 victory in the nightcap at Betty Basler Field.
In total, the Buccaneer pitchers allowed six hits, while walking only one batter and striking out eight en route to the Blue and Gold earning their first sweep over an opponent since taking a doubleheader versus Belmont in March 2011. With the sweep, ETSU now heads into Atlantic Sun play on a three-game winning streak and improved to 10-16 on the season. Meanwhile, the Catamounts dropped to 0-8 lifetime against the Bucs in Johnson City and dipped to 11-21.
Along with the spectacular pitching efforts, freshman outfielder Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) kept her hitting streak alive as she has now hit safely in 10 consecutive games. Joining Everett with a solid day at the plate was sophomore catcher Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and senior Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.). Baird got the start in game two and smashed her first collegiate grand slam, while Delisa drove in the game-winning run with a fifth-inning single in the opener.
Game One Recap
After both teams combined for 21 runs on 36 hits in their last meeting back in February, no one would have thought one run would be enough offense to come away with the win. But despite the wind gusts blowing out at over 20 miles per hour, the Bucs were able to pull off the 1-0 win over the Catamounts in game one of the doubleheader.
Katie Wolff tossed her second shutout of the season by limiting Western Carolina to four hits in seven innings of work to improve to 4-8 on the year. Meanwhile, senior Katie King was out-done by the sophomore right-hander, as King suffered the loss after being tagged with the one run on four hits dropping her record to 3-6.
Freshman outfielder Alex Everett extended her hitting streak to nine straight games when her leadoff single in the fifth proved to be the game-winning run. Along with Everett, Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.), Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Marlina Delisa each recorded hits for the Blue and Gold.
With both pitchers dealing in the circle the bats were kept silent until ETSU struck for the only run in the fifth. Everett led off the frame with a single up the middle to extend her hitting streak – and after the Bucs used some small-ball to move the freshman outfielder to second via a sac-bunt by Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) – Delisa came through with the clutch two-out hit to plate pinch runner Lily Robins (Collierville, Tenn.) from third.
The Catamounts threatened in the top of the sixth, but an infield fly call gave the Blue and Gold a lift to get out of the jam. With one out and runners on first and second, Amber Steinhardt hit a lazy fly to shallow right, but after Thompson camped under it, the ball popped out of her glove. Despite being on the grass, the umpire crew called Steinhardt out on the infield fly call; however, both runners advanced into scoring position after Thompson fumbled the ball on the play. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, Wolff worked out of wild inning by forcing Shemekia Scotton to hit into an inning-ending fly out to center.
Western Carolina put the game-tying run on in the seventh, but the Buccaneer defense rose to the challenge to secure the one-run win. Following a leadoff single by Robyn Burnette, Heather Chastain laid down the bunt, but Campbell came up firing to Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) at second to get the lead runner. From there, Wolff retired the next two Catamount hitters she faced to pick up her first win since defeating Boston U. on March 2 in Knoxville.
Game Two Recap
Shelby Morris continued her hot streak in the circle and sophomore Jackie Baird broke the game open with a grand slam in the third, as ETSU cruised its way to a sweep over the Catamounts, 7-0.
Morris, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in her last 13.2 innings of work, tossed her first collegiate shutout to improve to 2-5 on the year. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native is 2-0 with one save in her last four appearances, and has struck out six batters with allowing only one walk during this stretch.
Baird and Alex Everett provided much of the offense as they combined for four of the seven hits and five of the six RBIs in the nightcap.
Western Carolina threatened first when the Catamounts had runners on first and second with only one out in the second, but Morris worked out of the minor jam by striking out Heather Chastain and inducing Megan Crowe into an inning-ending grounder to third.
From that point forward it was all Blue and Gold.
The Bucs made Western Carolina pay for not coming away with any runs in the top of the inning, as ETSU capitalized on two costly Catamount fielding errors to grab a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Tara Hartnett reached on a two-out fielding error by Kelly Braman at third and moved to second on Baird’s single to left. From there, Hartnett was called safe when she slid under the tag from Chastian at home on Marlina Delisa’s RBI single to left. ETSU scored its second run on another Catamount error when Amy Campbell’s roller went right through the legs of Amber Steinhardt at first, giving Baird the opportunity to score from third; however, Delisa was tagged out at the plate as she tried to score on the play.
ETSU’s offense exploded in the bottom of the third and put the game away after extending its lead to, 7-0. Everett pushed her hitting streak to double figures for the second time this season with a bases loaded RBI single down the line in right – and with the bases still packed and two outs – Baird put a charge into a two-strike, two-out pitch by smashing her first collegiate grand slam, giving the Blue and Gold a seven-run advantage.
The Blue and Gold had a chance to end the game early, but ETSU left the bases loaded in the fifth after Baird flew out to right and Delisa struck out swinging. Lower could have tagged on the Baird fly out, but she broke home before the catch and didn’t have enough time to establish the tag at third.
Following Robyn Burnette’s single in the second inning, Morris faced the minimum for the remainder of the game. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native retired 12 straight Catamount batters until Amelia Griffin recorded a one-out single in in the sixth, but she was quickly doubled up on Erin Foster’s double play in the next at-bat.
Jordan Garrett was dealt the loss (5-10) after surrendering seven runs (five earned) on seven hits in six innings of work.
The Bucs continue their home stretch when ETSU opens Atlantic Sun Conference play on Friday evening against Kennesaw State. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 4 p.m. at Betty Basler Field.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.