GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU Media Relations) – Stout pitching and timely hitting backstopped East Carolina to a 2-0 victory over Houston Sunday at the ECU Softball Stadium in the rubber game of the teams’ American Athletic Conference softball series.
The Pirates (22-28, 4-11 AAC) claimed their first league series victory of the season while the Cougars (21-26, 4-8 AAC) have lost four of their last six in AAC play. ECU racked up nine hits while limiting Houston to just a pair. Both teams played clean defensive softball as no errors were charged in the contest.
On a day during which the Pirates celebrated their senior class (Casey Alcorn, Kelsi Briggs, Nicole Cheek and Meredith Mitchell), Alcorn, Cheek and Mitchell combined for five hits, two runs scored and a RBI. Maya Thomas posted the only two Cougar hits.
Junior RHP Lydia Ritchie tossed six scoreless innings, scattering just two hits while walking four batters and striking out four. Presley Bell suffered the loss in the Houston circle, allowing two runs on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout.
How it Happened: After Ritchie worked two perfect innings to begin her day, East Carolina put up its first scoring chance in the bottom of the second. Junior first baseman Ali Ramirez singled down the right field line to kick off the half inning before Cheek followed with a single of her own. Following a beauty of a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Alex Mycek, a strikeout and a groundout would strand both runners in scoring position.
Ritchie continued to work efficiently in the circle, allowing just a bunt single all the way through the fourth frame. ECU rewarded that effort in the home half of the inning when Ramirez and Cheek singled to lead off before Mitchell drove Ramirez in with a RBI single to shallow left field.
The Pirates manufactured their second run of the day in the bottom of the fifth as Alcorn was hit by a pitch and stole second with no outs. Sophomore third baseman Karlie Smith then singled to left field, moving Alcorn to third. Ramirez followed with a slow roller to the pitcher who threw to first for the out, but Alcorn smartly slid home during the throw to make it a 2-0 contest.
With their last chance to dent the scoreboard in the top of the seventh, the Cougars received a Brooke Vannoy leadoff walk that would chase Ritchie from the circle. Halo, who earned her first collegiate victory in game two of yesterday’s doubleheader, was called upon to put Houston away for good and she did so by inducing a pair of flyouts and a liner to short.
Bits and Pieces: East Carolina improved to 17-30 all-time against Houston, including a 12-10 mark in Greenville … The Pirates won a series from the Cougars for the first time since 2009 … ECU finished its 2016 home campaign with a 7-11 record … East Carolina moved to 12-6 in games decided by two runs or less … The Pirates blanked their eighth opponent of the campaign and have the most shutouts in a single season since 2011 … The teams combined to leave 14 runners on base … ECU posted the only two-out RBI of the game … East Carolina had four of its six leadoff batters reach base safely … Junior outfielder Ciara Ervin extended her hitting streak to eight games and has now reached base safely in 16-straight contests.
Up Next: East Carolina wraps up its regular season May 6-8 with a three-game AAC series at UCF.