Aona, Bibee lead softball to sweep

Published 4:53 pm Thursday, April 23, 2009

By Staff
ECU Sports Information
GREENVILLE – The East Carolina softball team defeated in-state rival UNC Greensboro 4-3 and 9-0 on Wednesday afternoon to sweep its final regular season midweek games. Cristen Aona drove in two runs in each contest and Sarah Bibee had three RBI in the second game. The pair of wins gives the Pirates (36-12) six-straight wins over the Spartans (19-26), the longest streak in program history.
Toni Paisley, 27-7, picked up the win in game one as she allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits and fanned 13. The 13 strikeouts give her 259 for the season, the third-most in one year in program history. The victory also moved Paisley into a tie with Stacey Nelson of the University of Florida for the second-most wins in Division I this season.
In the second game, Brooke Swann, 7-1, earned the 40th victory and 15th shutout of her career as she blanked the Spartans on three hits. The 15 shutouts move her into a tie with Tracie Podratsky for seventh in ECU history.
In the opener, East Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Angel Barrella walked, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charina Sumner, advanced to third on an illegal pitch and scored on a fielding error by the third baseman.
The Pirates added another run in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead. Barrella led off with a double to right center and went to third on Sumner's second sacrifice bunt of the game. Jessica Johnson walked, the 97th of her career and third-most in ECU history, to put runners on the corners with one down. Johnson took off for second on the first pitch to Aona and Leslie Furness, the UNCG catcher, attempted to throw out Johnson, who slid in safely. On Furness' throw, Barrella broke home and scored. Barrella finished the opener going 2-3 with the two runs scored.
In the top of the fourth, the Spartans scored two runs to tie the game. Brittany Ausley led off with a walk and Alex Emeterio hit a two-out double that plated Ausley. Lyndsay Mouse followed with another double that drove in Emeterio to tie the game. The runs were just the seventh and eighth an opponent had scored against ECU in the fourth inning this season.
After a Sumner walk started the bottom of the fifth, Aona provided the game-winning run with a two-run home run to left field. It was Aona's sixth multi-RBI game in her last 10 contests.
UNCG scored an unearned run in the top of the seventh to make the final score 4-3. After two strikeouts started the frame, Furness reached on an error, Emily Akiyama walked and another error allowed pinch runner Kayla Hensley to score. Paisley induced a foul pop out from Ausley to end the game.
In the second game, ECU again took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Barrella led off with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on another Sumner sacrifice bunt. A ball off the end of Aona's bat spun out of reach of all the UNC Greensboro infielders and drove in Barrella.
The Spartans put two runners on with two outs in the top of the third, but Swann got Whitney Sirois to ground out to end the threat.
The Pirates tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the third. Jillian Gallagher led off with a bunt single, stole second and went to third on a Sumner single to left. Sumner stole second and Johnson followed with a strikeout, but the ball got away from the catcher, allowing Johnson to reach first and load the bases. After an Aona strikeout, Marina Gusman-Brown worked a two-out bases loaded walk to force in Gallagher. Bibee then singled to center field, driving in Sumner and Johnson for a 4-0 lead.
Emeterio led off the top of the fourth for UNCG with a double but was left stranded as Swann retired the next three batters.
After the defensive hold, ECU put the game away with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Kaui Tom led off with a single, stole second base, went to third on a wild pitch and scored the first run of the inning on a fielding error by the shortstop.
Barrella reached on the fielding error and Sumner followed with a single to left. Johnson then drew her second walk of the afternoon, loading the bases with one out. Aona singled to left, driving in a run and reloading the bases for Gusman-Brown, who hit into a fielder's choice. Everybody was safe on the play, allowing Barrella to score for the third run. Bibee then singled to center, driving in another run to make it an 8-0 advantage. Tom collected the final RBI of the frame with a bases loaded walk.
Swann retired UNC Greensboro in order in the fifth, ending the game due to ECU's eight-run lead.
This weekend, East Carolina will play its final Conference USA three-game series of the season when the team travels to Huntington, W. Va., to take on Marshall. One win would set the program record for most C-USA victories in a season and a sweep would clinch the Pirates' first-ever C-USA championship. The teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. and finish the series on Sunday with a single game at 12 p.m.