The East Central University softball team improved their season record to 31-9 overall and 17-5 in the Great American Conference after claiming 2-1 and 3-1 wins at Henderson State. The 30+ win season marks the first time since 2011 that the Lady Tigers have had over 30 wins.
ECU was led by sophomore Chelsea Patterson, who hit .833 (5-of-6) for the day, with three runs scored. As a team, the Lady Tigers hit just .212 for the day, but held the Lady Reddies (17-25, 11-13 GAC) to a .196 average.
The ECU pitching staff was key to the wins, recording an ERA of 1.00, with seven strikeouts. Freshman Lacey Paulk started the day with a complete-game win in game one. Paulk allowed five hits, just one run and struck out four batters.
In the second game sophomore Brianna Nunley earned the win and senior Ali Manship picked up a save. Nunley threw the first four innings, allowing six hits and one run and striking out two. Manship pitched the final three innings and allowed zero hits and runs.
“Our pitching staff and defense only allowing two runs today was big for us because we didn’t have the run production we are used to getting,” said head coach Destini Anderson. “Henderson State is a good team and we had to work to get those last two wins. I am proud of the way we finished the series.”
The Lady Tigers will return home for the first time in two weeks to play their final eight home games at Lady Tiger Field over the next two weeks. ECU will first face Oklahoma Panhandle State, Tuesday, April 9 for a double-header starting at 2 p.m. at Lady Tiger Field.
Game 1 – ECU 2, HSU 1
The third game of the series was a defensive and pitching battle, with ECU recording four hits to five by the Lady Reddies.
The Lady Tigers were the first to score in the top of the third inning. Sophomore Chelsea Patterson got things rolling with a single to right center and was advanced to third on a fielder’s choice that included an error and no outs by freshman Autumn Suydam. Suydam stole second, which put two runners in scoring position. Senior Shelby Simmons then added an RBI to her totals when she ground out to second base.
HSU tied the game at one in the sixth inning with two hits.
Freshman Leah Tigert earned the game-winning run and RBI as the first batter in the top of the seventh with just her second home run of the season.
ECU’s defense then held strong in the bottom of the seventh, allowing one runner on base in four batters for the 2-1 victory.
Game 2 – ECU 3, HSU 1
Both teams held each other scoreless for the first two innings before the Lady Tigers broke the goose egg in the top of the third with two runs.
Patterson started the inning with a single, stole second and was advanced to third when Simmons grounded out to third. Junior Gina Mengwasser earned the first RBI with a single. Tigert then reached on an error to extend the inning and allowed Manship to send a run home with a single.
The Lady Reddies cut the lead in half with a single run in the bottom of the fourth. However, ECU responded with a run in the top of the fifth for the 3-1 final.
Patterson again started the inning with a single. This time she was advanced to second when Simmons grounded out to third and to third on a wild pitch. That allowed Mengwasser to earn an RBI with a sacrifice fly to center field.