Bucs end nine-game skid
CULLOWHEE, N.C. (March 20, 2013) -- Junior pitcher Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) tossed a complete-game, six-hit shutout and the ETSU softball team earned a doubleheader split with Western Carolina, winning game one 3-0 and losing game two 8-1, Wednesday afternoon from the Catamount Softball Complex.
Three first-inning Western Carolina (8-18, 1-5 SoCon) errors granted ETSU (8-16, 0-6 A-Sun) two runs in the opener and freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) continued to impress with a triple to lead off the seventh. Cowart later came around to score and pad the ETSU lead, but it was more than enough for Wolff who completed her first shutout of the season and fourth of her Buccaneer career.
The Catamounts rebounded quickly in game two, jumping all over the Bucs for four runs in the first inning, including a three-run homer to left off the bat of Taylor Sigmon. That proved more than enough for the win as WCU starter Jordan Garrett went the distance, striking out nine and allowing just one run.
"Katie threw really well in the first game and we played solid defense behind her," ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. "It was good to see her finish it off and get the shutout.
"Offensively, we weren't as aggressive as we need to be. We were digging ourselves holes and getting behind in the count too often."
Getting behind in counts resulted in 19 ETSU strikeouts through the two games. WCU’s game-one starter, Sigmon, went the complete game and struck out a career-high 10 batters, while Jordan Garrett sent down nine through seven complete in the second game. The last time ETSU struck out 10 times in a game was nearly a year ago, March 30, at Kennesaw State.
The Bucs combined for 10 hits on the day – four in game one and six in game two. Redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) was the only to earn a hit in each game, finishing 2-for-6 at the plate with two walks, a run and two stolen bases. Fox leads ETSU with 10 swipes on the year.
The victory in the opener ended ETSU’s nine-game losing streak.
ETSU is back in action Thursday, hosting Murray State in a single game at Betty Basler Field. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Game 1 Recap – ETSU 3, WCU 0
Wolff went the distance and allowed 10 Catamounts to reach base, but when all was said and done none came across and ETSU ended a nine-game losing streak by shutting out Western Carolina, 3-0.
In her shutout, Wolff (3-8) struck out three while allowing six hits and four walks. The junior pitched herself into and out of trouble for most of the game, leaving Catamounts stranded in each of the seven innings. The Buccaneers backed up their starter on defense by committing no errors for just the fifth time this season.
Sigmon was victim to five Catamount blunders in the field, including three in the first inning which allowed two unearned runs to cross for the Bucs. WCU’s starter allowed just four hits, walked one and struck out 10, but took the loss to fall to 0-4.
The first Western Carolina error came on the second at-bat of the game. Fox grounded to short, but the ball was misplayed by Karley Harkey. The speedster stole second and two batters later Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) singled, scoring Fox and putting the Bucs out in front.
Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) stepped up and hit another ball at Harkey which went right through the shortstop’s wickets and into left. Baird and Horner later advanced on a passed ball and the throw to try and get Baird out at third skipped into left to score ETSU’s second run of the inning.
The Catamounts never threatened until the middle innings, getting two on base in both the fourth and fifth but grounding out to end any rally. No WCU base runner reached third.
Cowart sparked the seventh to help pad the lead. The freshman led off the inning with a liner to the corner in right and legged out ETSU’s first triple of the season and the first of Cowart’s collegiate career. Two batters later, freshman Jennine Duncan (Jonesborough, Tenn.) grounded to third to score Cowart.
Wolff got the first two Catamounts down in the seventh, but then allowed Megan Crowe and Heather Chastain to single, bringing the tying run to the plate. Fortunately, Amber Steinhardt grounded to third and Cowart squeezed the win at first.
Game 2 Recap – WCU 8, ETSU 1
Any thoughts of a doubleheader sweep were quickly dashed in game two, as the Catamounts rallied for four in the first off ETSU starter Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) and went on for the, 8-1, win.
ETSU scraped out a run in the third to make it a three-run game, but WCU answered right back in the bottom half, adding another in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Garrett (7-8) was in control most of the way and went the whole game for the Catamounts, striking out nine Buccaneers, but did allow six hits and six walks. The Bucs left 11 of those runners on base.
Leon (1-2) lasted 3.2 innings in her first start of the season, leaving after allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out one. Junior newcomer Elliana Cabrera (Hayden, Ariz.) came on in relief and pitched the final 2.1 innings without much more success, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out out a pair.
Senior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) doubled to lead off the game, but neither Fox, Wolff nor Baird could plate the run. Leon got the first Catamount to foul out in the bottom half, but it all went downhill from there. Crowe doubled to right and Chastain reached on a fielder’s choice as Baird tried to tag out Crowe between second and third but missed. The mistake proved costly as Sigmon homered in the next at-bat to drive in three.
Western Carolina wasn’t done there. Steinhardt doubled in the next at-bat, followed by a single off the bat of Shemekia Scotton. Leon then hit Jordan Fulton to load the bases and walked Amber Kimrey to bring in the fourth run of the inning.
It may have gotten worse if not for a good defensive play by Baird, stepping on third off a hard-hit grounder and throwing to first for the inning-ending double play.
ETSU brought the game back to within three in the third. A single by Mikayla Treadway (Unicoi, Tenn.) and a walk by Fox put two on with one out and Wolff hit a hard double over short that made it all the way to the wall to score Treadway. Baird and Horner stepped up with opportunities to cut into the lead further, but left Wolff and Fox in scoring position.
The Catamounts got it right back with some small ball in the bottom half. A hit, sac bunt, wild pitch and an RBI single scored Steinhardt to bring the lead back to four.
The Bucs had more missed opportunities in the middle innings, leaving runners on second and third in the fourth and another in scoring position in the fifth. Meanwhile, WCU capitalized on its chances during the stretch, using a sac bunt and a single to plate a run in the fourth and a two-RBI double to extend the lead to seven in the fifth. The two-bagger came off the bat of Crowe, which hit off the top of the wall and nearly ended the game should it have gone out.
Just to sum up the game, ETSU loaded the bases in the seventh only to leave them full.