The East Carolina softball team kicked off American Athletic Conference play while picking up just one win against Memphis this weekend.
ECU (17-16, 1-2 AAC) opened up conference play on Friday and Saturday in Memphis, playing poorly offensively as well as struggling to get batters on base. In the first two games combined, the Pirates had just nine total hits. The defense and pitching was not much better, as the Tigers produced 24 hits combined in the first two games.
The third matchup between the teams was a completely different story from the first two games as pitching from senior Lydia Ritchie and sophomore Mary Williams limited the Tigers to just two hits on the day. The Pirates finished the series on a high note, defeating the Tigers 4-0 thanks to a great pitching performance.
Ritchie was extremely efficient during her time on the mound, as she allowed just two hits, walked one batter and struck out four more. Junior infielder Meredith Burroughs continued the strong play she displayed on Saturday with two more hits Sunday. Her two hits drove in a pair of runs for the Pirates and senior Ciara Ervin also got things going offensively, scoring two runs on a double and a home run.
The second game of the series saw the Pirates come up short, as they were defeated 5-1. Windy and wet conditions in the game made it hard for ECU to get much going. Burroughs continued her success that she has had over the past couple weeks, as she notched ECU’s lone RBI on one of her two hits.
The Pirates fell in the first matchup, 8-2, as Memphis catcher Regan Hadley went 4-for-4 at the plate, single handedly matching the Pirates’ hit total. Sophomore utility player Morgan Halo had two of those hits, and added an RBI to give the Pirates a little bit of life in the game.
Overall, the pitching was not what they had hoped for in the first two games, as Williams fell to a mark of 4-9 on the season after allowing four early runs in the first matchup. Ritchie also struggled a bit in the second game of series before both she and Williams redeemed themselves with great pitching in the third game.
The Pirates entered the Memphis series coming off a tough loss to Elon where the defense failed to show up. After falling behind early, 9-0, their comeback effort wasn’t enough as they dropped the in-state matinee 10-9. Head coach Courtney Oliver was looking for her team to come into their first conference matchups of the year with better focus on the defensive side, and take the series, which they were unable to do.
“We need to do a better job tightening up our defense in the middle innings,” Oliver said. “The team is playing really well right now, you know we are swinging it offensively, we’re in every single game, we just have to tighten up our defense, have good effort from our pitchers, and we will be better.”