ECU Softball

Meredith Burroughs is a senior pitcher on the ECU Softball team.

The East Carolina University softball team will travel to Hawaii to participate in the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament from Friday through March 4, then the Hawai’i Spring Fling Tournament from March 7-9.

Old competitors and new competitors, from the East Coast to the West Coast will be taking on ECU. The teams making the trip include Longwood University, University of Hawai’i, University of California, James Madison University and the University of Texas at El Paso to participate in the Aloha Tournament. Longwood, Hawai’i and JMU will hang around for the Spring Fling Tournament along with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Brigham Young University.

Head coach Courtney Oliver has never participated in these tournaments during her time as head coach at ECU, but is ready for the opportunities it will bring. She has been reminding her girls that it is a business trip, not spring break, and says the teams know there are ballgames to win.

“Experience is definitely what we need,” Oliver said. “Experience with our young pitching staff and learning to bounce back and play seven innings.”

Freshman outfielder Tyler King is from California and says she is looking forward to playing California and Hawai’i because she will face some girls she played softball both with and against in her youth. Although the Pirates have faced highs and lows already this season, including a six game losing streak, the team is hoping to come out with more knowledge and experience before conference play begins on March 23.

After a five game hitting streak, King hopes to continue her hot play in Hawaii. She just moved into the lead-off role in the lineup, meaning her ability to get on base will usually set the tone for the rest of the lineup. Even if King doesn’t get on base, putting the ball in play can move runners into scoring position, which is also a success at bat.

“I will be having successful at bats either by putting the ball in play hard or working the count and taking good swings,” King said. “I always have great hitters coming up behind me. If I don't get the job done, I trust the rest of my teammates to do it.”

Freshmen pitchers Erin Poepping and Whitney Sanford have a combined 52 strikeouts in 94.2 innings, which motives Sanford going into these tournaments. She is ready to play against great softball programs as she has gotten rid of all of her collegiate nerves after the past few games. Being a freshman and getting this opportunity to play in Hawaii is a great learning experience, according to Sanford.

“This tournament will gain so much knowledge for me through pitching and even just the game of softball itself,” Sanford said. “All of the teams we play are very good and with this competition, it will help me going into conference knowing that I have already faced such good competition.”

Longwood lost three of five games last weekend and is 6-4, while Hawai’i is 6-6 after dropping four of five games last weekend. Looking at the rest of the competition, California is ranked No.15 in this week’s USA Today and National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll with a record of 15-1. JMU (9-2) and UTEP (9-7) both swept its competition last weekend as well.

ECU will start off the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament with a doubleheader against Longwood on Friday at 9 p.m. then Hawai’i at 11:30. The Hawai’i Spring Fling tournament starts March 7 with a rematch between ECU and Hawai’i at 11 p.m.

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