Every American Athletic Conference game is very important for the East Carolina softball team, but it 9-0 fifth-inning mercy-rule victory over Central Florida could prove to be the turning point to its season.
Entering the first game of the series, the Pirates had struggled recently both getting on base, as well as keeping their opponents off base. That was not evident in this game as East Carolina (18-18, 2-2 AAC) drove in nine runs on eight hits in just five innings of work.
Capped by an Oshiro grand slam in the bottom of the second inning, ECU scored six runs off of three hits. Oshiro went 1-for-3 on the day but salvaged the offense with four RBI.
“Stepping up to the plate, I just wanted to have my at-bat to be as productive as possible,” Oshiro said. “Our team was able to get the bases loaded, and without them it wouldn’t have been possible. I’m just happy I was able to contribute to tonight’s win.”
First baseman Meredith Burroughs, left fielder Ali Ramirez and designated hitter Logan Wood each picked up two hits a piece to account for six of the nine ECU runs in the contest. Tate McClellan had the other hit for the Pirates. First baseman Jazmine Esparza had the only hit for UCF (18-15, 1-3 AAC).
Lydia Ritchie picked up her 10th win on the season and was dominant on the mound, recording four strikeouts, allowing one hit and walking another through five innings of play.
The win boosted the confidence of a struggling Pirate team that has a few bumps in the road in the recent weeks. Their pitching rotation has been strained even further now that Ritchie is pitching with an undisclosed injury and on a pitch count for each game, roughly around 80. She would have most likely been pulled in the next inning as she was at 74 pitches when the game ended.
“They love playing at home, this team is so relaxed when (it plays) at home,” head coach Courtney Oliver said. “All week we have been preaching team energy and we’ve got to start doing things right.... Today they executed, and they did a pretty good job.”
The Pirates will look to get back to over .500 when they play the Knights in the second game of their series Saturday at 2 p.m. with projected starter Mary Williams on the mound for ECU.