Lady Pirates split with Cougars

Published 8:05 am Sunday, March 8, 2009

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — “Toni Terrific” was her usual brilliant self on the mound. Toni Paisley held a potent Houston lineup to two runs, helping to lead the East Carolina Lady Pirates to a 6-2 victory over the Cougars in Saturday’s Conference USA opener.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak to the Cougars (9-10, 1-1), and gave ECU (10-6, 1-1) its sixth consecutive victory overall.
Houston sophomore Amanda Crabtree was brilliant in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, holding the Lady Pirates to one hit in a 3-1 victory to salvage a split.
ECU coach Tracey Kee was pleased with how her team started out on a warm, sunny afternoon.
Paisley went the full seven innings in the opener, scattering six hits, striking out four and walking four. The sophomore was happy to notch a win over the Cougars.
Paisley’s teammates spotted her a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Christina Merrida slapped a one-out single and the speedster scored on Marina Gusman-Brown’s single. Angel Barrella followed with an RBI-double for the early 2-0 lead.
Houston tied it with single runs in the third and fourth innings. Laurie Wagner had an RBI-single in the third and Melissa Gregson ripped a run-scoring double in the fourth, but that’s all Paisley would allow.
ECU took the lead for good with a four-run sixth off Houston starter Baillie Lott (4-5). Merrida reached on an error, Jessica Johnson was hit by a pitch and Gusman-Brown reached on an error to load the bases.
Barrella walked to force in a run, while Cristen Aona’s sac fly scored Johnson. Sarah Bibee’s two-run double into right gave the Lady Pirates the 6-2 cushion.
ECU couldn’t generate much offensively against Crabtree (5-4) in the second game. The sophomore gave up one hit and struck out five.
The Lady Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the second without getting a hit. Gusman-Brown was hit by a pitch and Barrella walked. After a double-steal, Gusman-Brown raced home on a wild pitch.
ECU didn’t really threaten again. The lone hit was a two-out single by Charina Sumner in the fifth.
Houston tallied all three of its runs off ECU starter Caitlin Wainwright (2-3) in the fifth. The freshman gave up the three runs on just three hits, striking out one and walking three in 4 1/3 innings.
Wagner started the rally with a leadoff double. Haley Valis knocked Wagner in with a single. With the bases loaded, Casey Willow drew a walk to force in a run, which ended Wainwright’s afternoon. Katie Bush’s infield single off reliever Brooke Swann (0 runs, 5 hits, 1 strikeout in 2 2/3 innings) capped the scoring.
Some of the Lady Pirates weren’t playing at 100 percent as illness ran through the team last week. That included starting first baseman Jessica Johnson, who played valiantly after missing all week of practice.
The teams conclude the series with a noon game today.