Freshman Carpenter begins career with multi-homer game
AUBURN, Ala. (Feb. 8, 2013) – The ETSU softball team took the field for the first time in 2013 on Friday at the Plainsmen Invitational, hosted by Auburn, but suffered their first two defeats at the hands of the Tigers, 11-3, and Kent State, 5-4.
ETSU (0-2) came out swinging with two runs in the very first inning by way of RBI singles from sophomore Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) and junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.), but Auburn (2-0) responded by plating six in the bottom half with the help of a three-run homer and two ETSU miscues in the field. A run in the third brought the Bucs to within three, but the Tigers put two across in the fourth and ended the game with three more runs in the sixth.
The Bucs didn’t have long to think about the first game, facing up with Kent State (1-0) 30 minutes later. Three errors ultimately cost the young team, as freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) pitched six innings in her collegiate debut and gave up just one earned run. Freshman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) knocked in all four ETSU runs with her first two collegiate home runs – a three-run, opposite field blast in the second and a leadoff moon shot in the fifth – but ETSU could not overcome the five runs given up in the first two innings.
Carpenter’s multi-homer game is ETSU’s 13th in program history. The last to do it was Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) last year during her freshman campaign at Liberty.
The Bucs look to turn the tables and chalk up some wins Saturday, kicking off day two of the Plainsmen Invite against Austin Peay State University at 11 a.m., ET. ETSU plays the last of its four games in Alabama under the lights against Army at 9 p.m., ET.
ETSU faced off with tournament host Auburn to get the 2013 campaign rolling. Some overcast skies, cooler than normal temperatures and light drizzle didn’t damper the Bucs’ bats early on, as they jumped all over AU’s Lexi Davis with two runs off three hits in the first inning to take the early advantage.
Sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Tenn.) got the ball rolling, racing down the line on a grounder to third to force a quick throw and an Auburn error. Starting pitcher Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) reached on a swinging bunt, bringing up Thompson who drove in the first run of the year. Thompson’s RBI single was driven to right and head coach Brad Irwin took his chances early by waving Fox around third. The throw in beat the speedy centerfielder, but was well off line as Fox danced around the AU catcher McKenzie Kilpatrick to plate the first run of the year.
Thompson finished her first game of the season 2-for-2 at the plate, driving in the one run and reaching base all four times with two walks. Meanwhile, Wolff was 2-for-3, scoring the one run and walking in her other at bat.
Baird added to the lead two batters later with a single through the left side, scoring Wolff from third to push the lead to 2-0.
Auburn struck right back. With one on and one out in the bottom half, a missile off the bat of Brooke Lathan popped out of the glove of Jennine Duncan (Jonesborough, Tenn.) in left. Duncan threw the ball in with Morgan Estell stopped at third and Lathan on her way to second. Seeing an opportunity, Baird tried to throw out Lathan and Estell bolted for home. Lathan was safe at second and Estell slid in safe at home.
From there, the inning unraveled. A single up the middle tied the game and two batters later Emily Carosene sent a pitch over the wall in left-center to put Auburn ahead, 5-2. Irwin pulled Wolff and brought in junior transfer Elliana Cabrera (Hayden, Ariz.), who got the Bucs out of the inning after allowing just one additional run.
Horner put ETSU within three in the third. With Baird on second, the sophomore hit a slow roller fielded by the pitcher, Davis. Baird broke for home on the throw which Horner beat down the line and the throw back home was not in time to get Baird, pulling the score to, 6-3.
Cabrera got in a groove in the circle, shutting down the Tigers through three of the next four innings. AU did manage two runs in the fifth to take an 8-3 lead, but the Eastern Arizona Community College graduate kept the Bucs hanging around.
Auburn finally got to Cabrera in the sixth, with Estell doubling, Branndi Melero singling to third and Lathan singling between third and short. The three consecutive hits ended Cabrera’s day and brought in sophomore Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.), who hit Jordan, walked Hilary Havromat and hit Carosene to drive in the run to force the mercy rule.
The Bucs left 11 on base when game one was in the books, leaving two on in each of the first four innings and the bases loaded in the sixth.
Kent State Recap
Harrell took the circle for game two, pitching a strong six innings with two strikeouts while allowing just four hits and one walk. The demise was ETSU’s defense committing three errors and allowing Kent State to steal the win. Carpenter went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs while driving in four, but could not lift the Bucs to victory in the, 5-4, night cap.
The first bobble came in the first inning and allowed KSU to jump out on top. After plating the first run on a double steal, Kent State took advantage with two outs when Morgason reached on a fielding error that should have ended the inning. Instead, Grimes doubled to left to score Morgason and Kent State ended the first with a two-run cushion.
Carpenter broke through in the second. After being held hitless in game one, the freshman shortstop tattooed a three-run blast the opposite way over the right-center field wall to give the Bucs the lead. The homer drove in senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.), who reached two batters earlier on a single, and senior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.).
The lead lasted about 15 minutes before the Flash took it right back. Errors proved very costly, starting with Bagby reaching on a one-out miscue in left by Hartnett. The next KSU hitter flied out to Fox and should have ended the inning, but instead the damage ensued. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases and Ledford sent them all home with a double over the head of Hartnett in left. The three-run two-bagger put Kent State ahead, 5-3, taking the momentum from Carpenter’s blast in the top half.
Harrell settled in and was in control the rest of the way, allowing just one hit through her final four innings of work. The freshman wound up with two strikeouts in her debut, walking only one.
Carpenter led off the fifth with her second homer of the game, a towering fly ball over the left field wall that put the Bucs within a run, 5-4.
The score remained such into the top of the seventh, where ETSU was hoping for some magic after Hartnett caught a line drive in left and doubled up KSU at second base to end the sixth. Carpenter was due up second in the inning and worked deep into the count in search of a potential three-homer game, but went down hacking before Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) surrendered the final out.
Kent State had just four hits in the game, but put five across with the help of ETSU’s three errors. The Bucs had five hits, but KSU was solid on defense with no mistakes to not allow the Bucs any gifts.
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