Bucs drop two on Senior Day to USC Upstate
Jessica Duncan with her family, Coach Irwin and Senior Associate Athletic Director Barbie Breedlove during the pregame ceremonies.
Jessica Duncan with her family, Coach Irwin and Senior Associate Athletic Director Barbie Breedlove during the pregame ceremonies.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Rally falls short for Bucs in game one; Spartans blank Blue and Gold in nightcap

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 6, 2011) - It was a bittersweet day for seniors Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) and Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.), as the USC Upstate Spartans spoiled their Senior Day by handing ETSU a pair of setbacks (7-4 in game one, 7-0 in game two) on Friday evening at Betty Basler Field.

Prior to the game, Henderson and Duncan were recognized for all their hard work and accomplishments earned during their time spent at ETSU. The senior standouts received two specially made posters from Coach Irwin, while the players gave Henderson and Duncan a shadow box with their jerseys placed inside. Not only was it the final games for the seniors, but assistant coach Callie Shaeffer was honored by Irwin during the pregame festivities as she will receive her Master's Degree Saturday and begin her teaching career following her two year-stint as a graduate assistant for the Bucs.

Despite ending their careers with a pair of losses, Henderson still finished out her career with a banner season. The Jackson, Tenn. native posted a career-high .348 batting average and she entered the day ranked sixth in the A-Sun in hitting, tied for seventh in doubles (12) and tenth in slugging percentage (.557). Henderson endured some tough luck on Friday as she was sent to the training room for stiches after she was hit in the chin in the first inning of game one; however, the slugger returned to the game and belted a two-run homer in the Bucs' four-run sixth inning. Meanwhile, Duncan capped off her career by leading the ETSU pitching staff over the last two seasons and recorded a total of 17 wins and over 145 strikeouts in her two-year stint in Johnson City. The Ooltewah, Tenn. native was apart two shutouts for the Bucs in her career, while also striking out a career-high nine hitters in a win over Eastern Illinois a year ago.

With the pair of defeats, the Bucs finished the 2011 campaign with a record of 15-33, 3-17 in A-Sun play, while USC Upstate improved to 41-11, 13-7 and will be the third seed in next weeks A-Sun Conference Tournament.

Game One Recap

Despite scoring four runs in the sixth inning, the Bucs saw their rally come up short as Morgan Childers struck out 14 ETSU hitters en route to picking up the 7-4 win in game one.

Childers, who carried a no-hit bid into the sixth, was roughed up a bit, but the Spartan hitters rewarded the senior righty with seven runs of support to improve her mark to 28-7 on the season. Sophomore outfielder Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) broke up the no-no with a leadoff single in the sixth and she scored on Nicole Fox's (Peachtree City, Ga.) RBI single to center. Then, with Fox on second and Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) standing on third (hit by a pitch earlier in the inning), Henderson returned to the game and provided a big offensive punch. Henderson sent a 2-1 pitch high into the sky in left and recorded her sixth homer of the year to pull the Bucs within three, 7-4.

Unfortunately, Childers responded after the Henderson homer as she retired six of the final seven hitters she faced to secure the win for Upstate.

Duncan suffered the loss (8-14) even though she kept the Bucs in the contest through the first four innings of play. The Ooltewah, Tenn. native held the A-Sun’s top offensive team to two runs in the first four innings of play, but the Spartans struck for four more in the sixth to take a six-run advantage. Duncan allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits in 4.1 innings of work.

Both teams left runners in scoring position in the first inning, but Upstate made up for the lost chance by plating a run without a hit to grab an early 1-0 lead in the second. Janna Lewis reached on a fielding error by Lower at short to begin the inning and advanced to second via a steal, while trotted over to third on a passed ball. After Cheyanna Ohlrich was hit by a pitch, Erica Kaufman scored Lewis from third on her fielder's choice sacrifice bunt on the next at-bat. From there, Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) made a solid defensive play at third to get the lead runner out on a force, and Duncan worked out of a bases loaded jam by inducing Ericka Harris to tap into an inning-ending grounder to second.

After leaving two more runners stranded at second and third in the following inning, Upstate scored another run in the fourth when Katie Zauner's two-out RBI single to center plated Lindsay Kelly from second to make it a 2-0 contest.

The Spartans finally broke through for four runs in the fifth and added one more in the sixth to hold a 7-0 cushion, but the Buccaneer bats finally came alive in the sixth.

ETSU, who didn't record a base runner from the second through fifth innings, eventually found an answer to Childers' dominate pitching; however, the Bucs couldn't muster enough offense to carry their way past the Spartans. The Blue and Gold attacked one of the most winningest pitchers in the country for the four runs, but she then came back to retire six of the final seven hitters she faced following the Henderson home run to pick up her conference-leading 28th victory of the season.

Fox went 1-for-2 with a RBI and run scored in the three-run defeat, while Henderson was a perfect 1-for-1 with two RBI.

Game Two Recap

Hannah Alexander tossed a three-hit shutout and USC Upstate scored four runs in the fifth and tacked on three more in the seventh to cruise its way to a 7-0 win in the second game of an A-Sun doubleheader Friday evening.

Junior right-hander Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) kept the Spartans scoreless for the first four innings of play, but back-to-back solo homers to start the fifth began the downfall for the Buccaneer pitcher. Morris was tagged with the loss (6-10) after surrendering four runs on six hits in 4.1 innings of action. Alexander improved her mark to 13-4 after only needing 84 pitches to pick up her seventh shutout of the year.

Neither team could get anything going offensively until Cheyanna Ohlrich and Ashley Butler belted the back-to-back round-trippers in the fifth and Morris was eventually removed from the circle after three of the next four Spartan batters reached base following the pair of solo blasts. Freshman Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) entered in relief and she was greeted rudely by Lauren Quevedo as her single through the right side scored two more runs - making it a 4-0 lead for the visitors from Spartanburg, S.C.

With Alexander dealing in the circle the four runs were more than enough offense for the hurler to work with; however, Upstate decided to plate three more runs in the seventh to push its lead to, 7-0.

Overall, Sam Lower, Nicole Fox and Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) were the three ETSU players to record hits off Alexander.

Friday marked the season finale for the Bucs, and the ETSU coaching staff will now turn its attention to the off-season as they continue to hit the recruiting circuit to strengthen the future of the program.

For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com or follow the Bucs on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ETSUAthletics.

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