Beginning a 10-game homestand, the East Carolina University softball team (3-4, 0-0 AAC) took the field Friday to play their first homefield double header of the season. Set to play both Hampton University (2-1, 0-0 Big South) and DePaul University (3-4, 0-0 Big East).
Fresh off a win against Hampton just before, the Pirates took the field against DePaul with high energy. Junior right-handed pitcher Erin Poepping took to the circle for the first time of the weekend to start the game, quickly striking out her first batter, senior outfielder Angela Scalzitti.
The Pirates carried their solid defense from the previous game into the top half of the first inning, not allowing a single DePaul player to first base. In the bottom of the first, despite getting two players on base, the Pirates failed to score and finished the first inning 0-0.
DePaul came out swinging in the top of the third inning, getting two batters over home plate early in the third. Head coach Courtney Oliver was forced to swap pitchers midway through the inning when Poepping was struck in the head by a ball hit straight up the middle of the field. Junior right-handed pitcher Whitney Sanford finished out the top of the inning.
“Erin (Poepping) is a very tough kid,” Oliver said. “Her being tough and her laughing and smiling while she was still on the field was good. I went up to the players and was like ‘hey look, she’s fine, she’s good.’ It’s one of those situations that can really shock a team. I think it was really good that we didn’t let it affect us.”
DePaul’s sophomore catcher/third baseman Gabby O’Riley hit a homerun that scored two runs in the top of the fifth. Despite valiant efforts on behalf of the Pirates, those runs were left unanswered in the bottom of the inning, wrapping up the fifth inning with a 4-0 score.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the ECU fully loaded the bases. The Pirates brought the score to 4-2 to finish out the inning with runners junior infielder Ashleigh Inae and sophomore infielder Sydney Griggs making it over home plate.
“We played okay defense. Everytime we make an error it seems to bite us,” Oliver said. “Obviously I think it could have been a 2-2 ball game still. Right now, had we played cleaner defense in the second game which is all part of it. We will make the adjustments and come back stronger.”
East Carolina held the Blue Demons from scoring in the top of the seventh and final inning. Ultimately they couldn’t battle back and fell to DePaul 4-2.
FINAL: DePaul wins a close one by a 4-2 margin. Catch us for two more games tomorrow when we battle George Washington at 3:00 p.m. and this same Blue Demon squad at 5:30. #GoPirates☠️— ECU Softball (@ECUSoftball) February 15, 2020
The Pirates got off to a strong start taking the field first against Hampton, gaining a double-play, two outs in one play, with junior right-handed pitcher Kama Woodall in the circle, pitching her first full home game as a Pirate.
“Our team works really well as a unit defensively. I just know whatever ball gets put into play, my team is behind me. It is very easy to pitch with them behind me,” Woodall said.
With redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Emily Workman entering the circle for Hampton, it quickly gained two outs. With a score from Inae, it brought the Pirates to a one run lead to finish off the first inning.
With Woodall in the circle once again in the top of the second, the Pirates showed strong defense and held Hampton for another inning with no score. In return, Hampton held ECU for the bottom of the second inning, making it a 1-0 game going into the third.
East Carolina scored two runs in the bottom of the third after sophomore infielder Bailey Ledvina hit a double with the bases loaded, sending both redshirt senior utilities player Rachel McCollum and senior outfielder Olivia Narron over home plate. Neither Hampton or ECU scored in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, closing out the sixth with 3-0 on the board.
One run to Hampton at the top of the seventh was not enough to make a comeback and ECU won the game with a final score of 3-1.
The Pirates take game 1 of the day! Our second game of the day will start at 5:30 PM. pic.twitter.com/r0Gau4A07m— ECU Softball (@ECUSoftball) February 14, 2020
“We just need to come out strong in every game. We came out strong against Hampton,” Woodall said. “We had the win on our minds and we got the win. We just need to do that again. We just need to come out every competition like it is the game of our lives and I think we can do that.”
However, the games at ECU Softball Stadium didn’t start with the Pirates’ matchups. George Washington University (1-6, 0-0 A10) was defeated by Hampton (2-10) in the first game of the day. George Washington then went on to beat DePaul in the second game of the day (6-5).
The Pirates will resume play in the Pirate Clash Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. against George Washington. It will be immediately followed by another game where ECU will have a rematch with DePaul.