Bucs sweep doubleheader, Lower homers twice, drives in eight
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2013) – Senior shortstop Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) launched two homers, including her first collegiate grand slam, to help the ETSU softball team take two games from Siena College in the Bucs’ home openers Saturday at Betty Basler Field.
ETSU (5-6) combined for 34 hits on the day – 17 in each game – defeating Siena (0-2) 12-5 in game one and 10-4 in game two. Lower was 4-for-7 on the day, belting a solo shot to left in the early game and putting four on the board with one swing of the bat in the second inning of game two. The senior shortstop combined for eight RBIs and four runs scored.
It wasn’t just Lower who produced offensively. The Buccaneers were 34-for-65 (.523) combined en route to their first sweep of a doubleheader since March 28 of last season when they did it to Western Carolina. Reigning A-Sun Player of the Week Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) was 4-for-7 through both games, scoring three times and driving in three more to go along with her second homer of the year. Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) hit 6-for-7 with three runs, four RBIs and her first long ball of the year.
“I can’t express how excited we are about getting 34 hits in two ball games,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “The offense was really locked in today. Not only did we get a lot of hits, but we hit a lot of them hard. It was exciting to see and it’s exciting to get the positive flow going.”
In the circle, freshman pitcher Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) went 6.0 innings, giving up three earned runs and striking out two en route to her third win of the season (3-3). Game two’s starter, Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas), went the whole seven innings, also allowing three earned and striking out a pair to earn the win and move her record to 2-2.
“Siena is a good hitting team,” added Irwin. “They scrap and fight and they put some runs on the board today. We have to make sure we keep the momentum going.”
The Bucs look for the series sweep Sunday at noon.
Game 1 – ETSU 12, Siena 5
A four-run fifth inning put the finishing touches on Siena College in ETSU’s home opener with the Bucs running away, 12-5. Lower and Horner drove in three runs apiece, while Harrell went six innings and limited the Saints’ damage to help the Bucs finish strong.
ETSU combined for 17 hits in its first game of the season at Betty Basler Field. Each starter in the lineup had at least one hit with seven of the nine in the order getting two.
The offense came to life in the very first inning with ETSU scoring three runs all with two outs. The rally began with a walk by Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.), followed by singles from Wolff and Baird to bring Everett around. A walk of Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) loaded the bases and Horner delivered the two-out blow with a hard single off the glove of the third baseman to drive in two more.
The Saints responded right away. A walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out and after Harrell got Lauren Milligan to go down swinging, a second walk brought in Siena’s first run. Stephanie Viggiano then stepped up and did as Horner did the inning prior, singling in two to tie the game.
Siena’s first and only lead of the day came in the third. With two down and two runners in scoring position, Paigh Lloyd hit a dribbler back to Harrell, but the throw sailed high of Horner and the Saints put two unearned runs on the board to take a, 5-3, lead.
ETSU answered quickly. Hartnett led off the third with a double and after two more reached base Lower stepped up with the bases full of Bucs. The senior drove in her first two RBIs of the day, singling to left field and leveling the score. Two batters later, Everett gave ETSU back the lead, driving in two more with a shot down the left field line.
The two-run ball game lasted until the fifth, when ETSU gave itself some breathing room with four more runs to take an 11-5 lead. Lower’s solo shot led off the inning and the next four batters all reached base. Horner’s single up the middle with two down ended the damage and gave Harrell all the comfort she would need.
Harrell had already been settling in and kept Siena scoreless in her final three innings of work. Sophomore Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) shut the door in the seventh for the final.
Game 2 – ETSU 10, Siena 4
After putting up 17 hits in game one, ETSU’s offense was back at it again with 17 more to account for 10 runs and earn the doubleheader sweep, 10-4. Wolff pitched a complete game, but ETSU’s bats were the story as three different Bucs homered off Siena pitcher Alyssa Lancaster.
Lower highlighted it all, sending a grand slam over the left field wall in the second for her second homer of the day. To the delight of Coach Irwin, the Bucs put up at least one run in each inning it stepped up to bat with Lower’s four-spot doing most of the damage.
ETSU took the lead in the first. Baird put an RBI single through the left side to score Wolff and ETSU was back to work with a 1-0 lead.
After Siena leveled the score in the top half of the second, Lower stepped up in the bottom half and hit the big fly. Horner, Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) and Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) all reached base to start the inning to bring up Lower who sent her first collegiate grand slam high into the Johnson City sky.
“I think I was blowing that ball over the fence,” said Lower, who moved her batting average up to .276 and is third on the team in slugging at .552. “I didn’t think that ball was going out when I first hit it. I was just hoping somebody would tag so we could get a run in. It felt really nice.”
A series of back-and-forth, one-run innings moved the score to 6-3 after four. ETSU’s run in the third came off another deep ball, this time courtesy of Baird for her second round-tripper of the season.
Wolff put up a zero in the fifth and ETSU took advantage by scoring two in the bottom half to extend the lead to 8-3. Another leadoff home run got it going as Horner powered her first of the year over the wall. Everett drove in the final run on a single and moved her average up to .286.
The six-run lead was more than enough for Wolff in the seventh as she sent the Saints marching in order.
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