ECU goes 2-0 on first day of Classic

Published 6:38 am Saturday, February 28, 2009

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
GREENVILLE - It took three extra innings but when Sarah Bibee crossed home plate to break a 1-1 stalemate with Fordham in the bottom of the 10th, East Carolina had picked up its second win of the afternoon in on the first day of the Pirates Softball Classic Friday.
The Pirates (9-5) won their first match up with Towson 9-2 thanks to career days by seniors Jessica Johnson and Bibee, before taking 2-1 victory in an exciting 10-inning thriller over Fordham.
ECU hurler Toni Paisley, a two-time Conference USA Pitcher of the Week, was locked in a pitchers’ duel with the Rams Jen Mineau before she took matters into her own hands and helped the winning run cross the plate in the bottom of the 10th.
With Bibee on second and no outs, Paisley smashed a ball down the third base line which was fielded by Fordham’s Jocelyn Dearborn. The Rams’ third baseman unleashed a throw to first that sailed high and wide, allowing Bibee to score all the way from second for the winning run.
Bibee had started off the inning at second base due to an NCAA softball tournament extra-inning rule that specifies that the player who made the last out in the previous inning starts the ensuing inning out at second base.
Fordham (5-6) had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth, but the Pirates answered back the next inning when cleanup hitter Marina Gusman-Brown drove in pinch-runner Jillian Gallagher to tie the game, 1-1.
East Carolina coach Tracey Kee said she was pleased with the way her team battled throughout the game.
Paisley (6-2) had a hand in both Pirates’ wins as she pitched the final three innings of the first game to pick up the save, then went right back to work in the second game to record the victory.
The redshirt sophomore also picked up her first-ever hit as a Pirates in the first game against Towson, but said coming a way with a win trumps everything else.
The redshirt sophomore struck out eight batters in 10 innings, while allowing only four hits and zero earned runs.
Paisley said she still had gas in the tank after the game.
Mineau fanned nine in nine innings, while yielding seven hits and two unearned runs.
The Pirates looked like they would be in for pitchers’ duel in the first game against Towson, but the ECU bats came alive as the innings rolled on to rack up nine runs.
The Tigers (5-2) were able to pick up a run in the first off pitcher Caitlin Wainright, but ECU rallied for three in the fourth inning to recapture the lead.
Gusman-Brown singled to start off the fourth, and would advance to third on a Tigers’ error on an Angel Barrella bunt. Gusman-Brown would score on a past ball on the very next pitch to make it a 1-1 game.
After a Cristen Aona infield single, Barrella would score on a Tom Kaui grounder to short. Bibee followed up with a single to center that allowed Aona to cross the plate for the game-winning run.
Bibee finished the day 2-3 with a career-high four RBIs.
Towson would only plate one more run in the bottom of the fourth, while East Carolina drove in two in the fifth and four runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
The sixth inning rally was highlighted by Johnson, the Pirates’ first baseman, who smashed an inside fastball over the 200-foot mark in left field to put ECU up 6-2, and net two milestones.
The round-tripper was Johnson’s 26th of her career, which ties her for third on the school’s all-time list, while the RBI, her 120th, is ECU’s sixth highest total for a career.