JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 18, 2004) - East Tennessee State softball opened its 2004 season Wednesday by sweeping Mars Hill (2-7) in a doubleheader from Kiwanis Park in Johnson City, Tenn. The Buccaneers (2-0) claimed a 12-0 victory in game one followed by an 8-1 decision in the nightcap.
It took ETSU just five innings to take care of the Lions in game one. Sophomore transfer Belinda Barrera (Fayetteville, N.C.) struck out five in her ETSU debut en route to a three-hit shutout. Barrera also had some help from the offense, as the Buccaneers used a seven-run second inning and a five-run fourth. As a team they tallied 16 hits led by senior Miranda Byerly (Candler, N.C.), who went a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate and drove in three runs. Fellow senior Tiffany McVay (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.) also had three RBIs on two hits. McVay was one of seven ETSU players with a multi-hit performance.
Mars Hill starting pitcher Lyn Loomis lasted three innings. She surrendered 11 hits and seven runs, five of which were earned. Elyse Hall came in to pitch the fourth inning and gave up five hits and five earned runs.
The Lions struck first in game two, scoring one run in the top of the first when Audrey Riffel hit a two-out double off of McVay to score Tessa Ashwell. However, ETSU responded with four runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a 4-1 lead. The Buccaneers added one run in the second inning after Janine Sprague (Hillsborough, N.C.) tripled and scored on a wild pitch. Mary Beth Hazelwood (Knoxville, Tenn.) then hit a solo homerun to right field in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 6-1 in favor of the Bucs. ETSU tacked on two more runs in the sixth.
Sprague finished 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored, while Hazelwood also scored twice and collected two hits in three at bats. Danielle Spetar (Knoxville, Tenn.) also tallied two hits. McVay started on the mound for ETSU and threw four complete innings. She gave up three hits and one earned run. Courtney Jenkins (Knoxville, Tenn.) finished the game after relieving McVay in the fifth. Jenkins struck out five in three innings pitched and surrendered one hit.
Mars Hill totaled just four hits in game two. Jessica Valentine, Ashwell, and Riffel were each 1-for-3 from the plate and Jenna Pendler was 1-for-2. Lindsay Hert hurled all six innings for the Lions. Hert scattered 12 hits, walked two, and allowed eight earned runs.
The Buccaneers will be in action again on Feb. 21-22, when they head to Martin, Tenn. for a two-day weekend tournament at UT-Martin. There they will face St. Louis University, UT-Martin, Indiana State, Indiana University-Fort Wayne, and Oakland University in a round-robin format.