The East Central University softball team picked up two wins in its opening games of the 2014 Great American Conference season, with 6-3 and 7-3 wins over Henderson State at Dee White Field.
The Lady Tigers (10-5, 2-0 GAC) were led by sophomore Leah Tigert, who garnered a .625 batting average with five hits and one RBI. Sophomore Lauren Reeves added three hits and a team-best seven RBIs, with a .429 batting average.
“Laruen Reeves came up big for us today,” said head coach Destini Anderson. “We used the momentum in game two and scored early.”
Sophomore Lacey Paulk earned the win in game one, throwing a complete game. Paulk allowed seven hits and three runs, while striking out three. Junior Brianna Nunley earned the win in game two, with 5.2 innings of work. Nunley allowed six hits and three runs, with one strikeout.
ECU had a strong day at the plate, with a total of 23 hits. The Lady Tigers hit .365 as a team for the day and allowed just a .260 average by the Lady Reddies (4-9, 0-2 GAC).
The teams will conclude the four-game series, Saturday, Feb. 22 with a double-header set to start at 1 p.m.
Game 1 – ECU 6, HSU 3
Game one started out in favor of HSU, with the Lady Reddies taking a 0-1 lead after the first and a 0-3 lead after the fifth.
ECU waited until the its final at-bat before earning the come-from-behind win with six runs in the top of the seventh.
After the first out of the inning, sophomore Autumn Suydam started the rally by drawing a walk. She was followed on base when Tigert singled and redshirt freshman Sydney Dow drew a walk to load the bases. The first run scored when the Lady Reddies were called for an illegal pitch. HSU then earned the second out of the inning, but junior Chelsea Patterson kept things alive by drawing a walk to load the bases again.
Reeves then hit the game-winning double to score three runs. Junior Samantha McGraw added an RBI when she reached on an error. Senior Gina Mengwasser added a runner on base when she was hit by a pitch. Freshman Nicole Nordie earned the final RBI with a single for a 6-3 lead.
The Lady Tigers kept the Lady Reddies off the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, forcing them to go three-up; three down for the win.
“Coming from behind is always exciting,” added Anderson. “I like how we went into the last inning with confidence and just kept fighting even with two outs.”
Game 2 – ECU 7, HSU 3
ECU kept the momentum on their side at the start of the second game, when Patterson earned a lead-off double down the leftfield line. McGraw added a base runner with a single, to set up Tigert for an RBI double. Nordie added a second run in the inning with a single to right field for a 2-0 lead.
The Lady Tigers added four runs in the top of the fourth. The bases were loaded with singles from junior Kaile Marcum and junior Kayci Snider and a walk by Patterson. That set up Reeves for an eventual game-winning grand slam and a 6-0 lead.
HSU added a single run in the bottom of the fourth before ECU added a run in the top of the sixth.
Nordie and Suydam singled, which allowed sophomore Jordynn VanPelt to earn an RBI with a double and a 7-1 lead for the Lady Tigers.
The Lady Reddies tried to earn their own come-from-behind win in the bottom of the sixth, when they scored two runs. However, it was not enough and both teams held each other without a run in the seventh for the 7-3 final.