Pirates drop softball opener|Tulane turns back Lady Pirates in basketball

Published 10:59 pm Sunday, February 14, 2010

By Staff
ECU Sports Information
CLEARWATER, Fla. — In the first-ever meeting between the Florida and East Carolina softball programs, the Gators hit three home runs and held on for a 4-3 victory in the season opener for both teams. UF, ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll, was limited to just five hits in the contest but three of them were home runs. The Pirates trailed 3-0 and 4-1, but could not complete the comeback.
Sophomore pitcher Faith Sutton suffered the loss in her first career start for East Carolina after transferring from the University of North Carolina. She allowed five hits and struck out four. Florida freshman Ensley Gammel surrendered five hits and four walks to earn the victory in her first career start. Classmate Erin Schuppert earned the save as she recorded the last four outs of the game.
The Pirates put two runners on in the top of the first inning with walks, but one was caught stealing and the other was left stranded.
Sutton got off to a strong start, striking out two-time all-American Aja Paculba and inducing back-to-back pop outs to send the Gators down in order in the first.
In the bottom of the second inning, Florida tallied the first hit and run of the contest as Kelsey Bruder sent a home run down the right field line for a 1-0 advantage. It was the 18th homer of the junior’s career after she hit 16 in 2009.
The Gators added two more runs in the bottom of the third when Paculba walked with one out and Florida’s career home run leader Francesca Enea brought her total to 42 with a long ball over the center field fence.
East Carolina got a run back in the top of the fourth to make the score 3-1. Senior Marina Gusman-Brown started the rally with a one-out single through the left side of the infield. She advanced to second base on a wild pitch before junior Sissy Jimenez walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Senior Cristen Aona sent the first pitch of her at bat to first base, where Megan Bush fielded the grounder and tried to force Gusman-Brown out at third. Gusman-Brown beat the throw to load the bases. Freshman Kai Clark worked a full count before hitting a grounder to the shortstop, who forced out Aona at second base, allowing Gusman-Brown to score on the play for East Carolina’s first run. Freshman Cicely Lopez struck out to end the threat.
Florida answered right back in the bottom of the fourth with its third home run of the game. Freshman Brittany Schutte led off the frame with a shot to center field to make the score 4-1.
In the top of the fifth, ECU scored twice to cut the deficit down to one run at 4-3. Senior Charina Sumner hit a one-out single and classmate Christina Merrida followed with a bunt for a hit to put runners on first and second. After a strike out, Gusman-Brown stepped to the plate and doubled off the wall in left field to drive in Sumner and Merrida.
Florida threatened in the bottom of the sixth with two outs as Schutte drew a walk, Corrie Brooks singled to center field and Bush walked. Sutton then struck out freshman pinch hitter Kelsey Horton to end the inning.
The Pirates were retired in order in the top of the seventh as Florida held on for the victory.
(East Carolina played host USF later Saturday. The game was not complete before deadline.)
Tulane turns back Lady Pirates
GREENVILLE — The East Carolina women's basketball team held Tulane to 23-percent shooting Saturday, but committed 31 turnovers in a 56-51 loss at Minges Coliseum. The Lady Pirates (18-7, 7-5) lost at home for the first time this season and had a 12-game Minges winning streak snapped in the process. The Green Wave solidified their hold on first-place as they are now 19-5 overall and 8-3 in league play. The contest was held in front of 3,157 fans, the sixth-largest crowd in program history.
"Tulane is a great defensive team and really took us out of our offense," head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener remarked. "We competed in the second half but 31 turnovers will not win you ballgames. I knew we would lose at Minges at some point but it was disappointing the way it happened today."
East Carolina missed its first seven shots as Tulane jumped out to a 9-1 advantage. The Green Wave then went further ahead, using a 14-9 run to assume a 23-10 lead. However, Ashley Clarke grabbed two defensive rebounds and turned them into four points as the Lady Pirates cut the deficit to seven. It would be as close as the home team would get the rest of the half, as Tulane took a 29-18 advantage into the locker room.
Both teams struggled to shoot the ball, as they combined to go 14-for-55 from the field. The Green Wave asserted itself on the glass, picking up nine offensive rebounds as part of a 24-19 margin. East Carolina also turned the ball over 16 times as Tulane scored 12 points off those many miscues.
Clarke scored 12 of the Lady Pirates' 18 points in the period while she and Kim Gay both grabbed five rebounds. Clarke also had ECU's lone assist.
As in Thursday's contest against UTEP, the Lady Pirates rallied, this time tying the score at 32 as they hit their five of their first eight shots which included two triples from Allison Spivey. East Carolina stayed close, sitting in a deadlock at 44 as the clock ticked towards the 4:00 minute mark. However, Tiffany Aidoo nailed a key three-pointer which sparked a 12-7 game-ending run for the Green Wave.
Clarke nearly recorded a double-double, scoring 16 points to go along with eight rebounds. Spivey had a strong second half, scoring all 14 of her points in the period and was 4-for-6 from beyond the arc as well as leading the team with a career-high nine rebounds. Additionally, Jean Best netted 10 points for the second-straight contest.
The Lady Pirates held Tulane to just 23-percent shooting, but committed a season-high 31 turnovers which the Green Wave turned into 22 points. ECU made more field goals (17-14), but Tulane took 13 more shots due in part to 13 offensive rebounds.
East Carolina returns to Minges Coliseum one last time in 2009-10, facing Tulsa on Sunday, Feb. 21. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.