Fox ups hitting streak to 13 games, one shy of tying ETSU record
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 16, 2013) – The ETSU softball team put up eight runs against Jacksonville in game two after being shutout in the series opener, but it wasn’t enough for a win as the Dolphins took the doubleheader by scores of 4-0 and 9-8 on Saturday from Betty Basler Field.
A five-run Jacksonville (18-8, 4-1 A-Sun) second inning quickly erased a 3-0 ETSU (7-14, 0-5 A-Sun) lead and the Buccaneers nearly overcame a 9-4 deficit in the final two innings. Junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) crushed a three-run shot out to left in the sixth to bring the gap to just two and freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) gave ETSU a two-out spark in the last with her first collegiate home run, but 10 runners left on base ultimately cost the Bucs a split of the day.
Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) had the first of ETSU’s three game-two homers, knocking her second of the season down the left-field line. Horner had two other crucial at-bats in the game – stepping up with the bases loaded and two outs in both the second and fourth innings – but struck out on those two occasions. The sophomore took a thrown ball to the eye in the first game and was taken out midway through the second for Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.).
ETSU would have liked a few of those homers to have come in game one, where it fell victim to a complete-game, three-hit shutout by Cecile Gomez (6-0). ETSU starter Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) had another solid outing, going the distance and allowing just two earned runs, five hits, three walks and striking out a pair, but took the tough-luck loss (2-7). Wolff holds a team-best ERA of 2.56.
The pitching fell apart in game two. Freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) went 3.0-plus innings and was charged with eight runs, seven earned, giving up four hits and walking four more. Sophomore Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) kept the Bucs in it through the final four, allowing just a run on five hits. Leon worked her ERA down to 3.15 to rank second on the team while Harrell took the loss to fall to 4-6 with a 3.88 ERA.
“We didn’t execute offensively in game one and we didn’t execute on defense and in the circle in game two,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “We have to get better and we have to be more consistent in our execution. We have no other option but to come out tomorrow and try to take a game out of this series.”
Sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) had one of ETSU’s three hits in the first game, singling in the first. Fox then went 3-for-5 in game two to end the day 4-for-8 at the dish with a run and a stolen base, extending her hitting streak to 13 games. The third-year sophomore will attempt to tie Stephanie Gaynord’s 14-game ETSU record, set from 2006-07, on Sunday.
The three-game series finale takes place Sunday at 1 p.m.
Game 1 Recap – Jacksonville 4, ETSU 0
Cecile Gomez tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout and Jacksonville took game one of the Saturday doubleheader by a score of 4-0. Gomez struck out four along the way and retired 11 straight Buccaneers from the end of the third through the top of the seventh inning.
Wolff matched Gomez in terms of innings and had a quality start, allowing just two earned runs on five hits. The ETSU offense could not back up its game-one starter, dropping Wolff’s record to 2-7.
Codi Kelly gave Jacksonville the day’s first lead in the third. With the help of gusty winds blowing out to left, Kelly crept a solo shot inches over the wall. JU then put up a one-spot in each of the last three innings, scoring two unearned with the help of three Buccaneer errors.
The Bucs had a chance to score early. Fox used her speed to roll a one-out single to short – extending the hitting streak to 12 games – and stole second during Horner’s at-bat. A Horner walk put runners on first and second, but Gomez got out of the inning on just three pitches getting both Wolff and Baird to pop out to short.
JU tested the arm of the catcher Hensley through the first couple innings, but Hensley met the challenge by gunning down Victoria Brown and Sable Lee attempting to steal second. Freshman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) added to the good defense in the third, turning a 4-3 double play. Kelly’s homer came in the next at-bat.
A walk, error, passed ball and sac fly scored Lee in the fifth, before Sarah Simon drove out JU’s second solo homer of the day in the sixth. With nobody on and two out in the seventh, a walk, passed ball and an error put across the Dolphins’ final run of the game.
Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) singled in the seventh, but it was all the Bucs could muster to fall quietly in the opener.
Game 2 Recap – Jacksonville 9, ETSU 8
One unearned run was the difference. An ETSU error scored the last of Jacksonville’s five in the second inning and three ETSU home runs could not get it done as the Dolphins escaped game two by a score of 9-8.
Horner and Baird blasted three-run shots to left in the first and sixth innings, respectively, while Cowart sent a solo shot to left in the seventh. A crucial changed call also cost the Bucs. The at-bat prior to Cowart’s homer, Carpenter was sent to first by home plate umpire Melody Wiggins on a hit-by-pitch call. Wiggins then convened with the rest of the crew and ruled the ball hit off Carpenter’s bat and was foul.
Carpenter went down swinging and Cowart’s homer scored just one instead of tying the game at nine.
Still, ETSU put up a fight and clawed back from being down by as many as five on two separate occasions in the ball game. Five of the Bucs’ eight runs came in the final three innings – outscoring JU 5-1 from the fifth through the seventh – but JU outdueled ETSU 8-3 in the front four to hold on for the win.
Brown started in the circle and lasted only an inning-plus for the Dolphins, allowing Horner’s first-inning homer and the first two batters to reach base in the second. Dale Tillman came on and got JU out of the inning without any runs crossing the plate. Tillman got Fox to pop out to short and Horner to strike out looking with the bases loaded to end the inning. The reliever went 5.2 innings, allowing 10 hits, five earned runs and striking out six, but still got the win (4-2) as JU never surrendered the lead.
Harrell (4-6) pitched a flawless first, but two walks, two singles and a wild pitch in the second inning alone helped bring five Dolphins home. After a solid third, a single, walk and double in the fourth ended Harrell’s day, bringing on Leon who allowed just one inherited runner to score. Leon went on to pitch the remainder of the game, allowing just one run in the sixth, but ETSU found itself down, 8-3, after the fourth.
A Lower RBI double in the fifth scored Wolff, bringing the deficit to four. Jacksonville responded in the top of the sixth on a single to right with the bases loaded and two down. Brown scored from third, but Kelly was thrown out at home by Cowart to limit the damage.
Down five heading into its last two offensive innings, ETSU dug deep and got back in the game. A Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) single and Hensley walk put two on with one out. Two batters later, Baird launched the first pitch she saw to left to pull the Bucs to within two.
A two-out, seventh-inning rally ensued. Down to the last out, Cowart cleared the wall down the left-field line and suddenly JU’s five-run lead was all the way down to one. An 0-2 pitch hit Hartnett and Fox singled through the right side to put the tying run on second and the winning run on first for Hensley, but the catcher went down hacking.
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