HOUSTON, T.X. – The East Carolina softball team split its conference doubleheader with Houston on Saturday afternoon, taking the first game 12-8 and falling 7-6 via a walkoff in the series finale at Cougar Softball Stadium.
Coming into Saturday’s contests, the Pirates (23-17, 1-8 AAC) had only tallied 10 home runs on the season but amassed five combined in both of today’s games. ECU outhit Houston (18-18, 5-1 AAC) over the two games but the Cougars would use timely offense and pitching to win the series.
Game One: East Carolina 12, Houston 8
The Pirates would get the scoring started early after Taylor Edwards and Logan Sutton each hit home runs in the first and second innings respectively to give ECU a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the second. Houston would join the home run festivities in the bottom of the second when Amanda Carden drove the ball to right field, knotting the game at 2-2.
ECU would regain the lead briefly on a Bailee Wilson RBI single but Houston would take advantage of some Pirate miscues to score two runs and take a 4-3 lead heading into the next frame.
After a scoreless fourth frame, the Pirates would catch fire at the plate, plating eight runs and forcing the Cougars to go deep into their bullpen to regain control with an 11-3 lead. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Houston would hit its second home run of the game and the Cougars would get a runner on base but Jordan Hatch would pop up the next two batters and strikeout the third batter to extinguish any momentum for Houston.
The Pirates would add an insurance run on a single RBI from Edwards in the top of the final frame and would hold off a last-inning rally attempt from Houston to earn its first conference win of the season.
Hatch (9-7) tossed six strikeouts in a complete game for her ninth win while Saleen Flores (0-1) allowed five hits and five earned runs in the loss.
Game Two: Houston 7, East Carolina 6
After a scoreless opening inning, ECU’s bats would get rolling again as Sydney Yoder would hit her first home run of the season to put the Pirates on the board first and Mackenzie Kila would follow suit with a two-run shot to left center to put ECU ahead 3-0. Taylor Edwards would continue her strong weekend with an RBI single to score Kila in the top of the third to extend the Pirates’ lead to 4-0.
Houston would tack on three runs in the bottom of the third to get right back in the game and make the score 4-3. The Pirates would respond in the next frame as Logan Sutton hit a two-run homer to right center to give ECU some breathing room at 6-3. The Cougars would chip away at the Pirates’ lead, scoring a run in each of the next three innings to knot the game at 6-6.
ECU would have a golden opportunity to score the go-ahead run with Anna Sawyer on third base but the next two Pirate batters could not advance the freshman to home to take the lead. Houston would load the bases in the bottom of the seventh and Amanda Carden would hit the first pitch to over the infield to score the game-winning run.
Addy Bullis (13-8) surrendered seven hits and seven runs in the loss while Kenna Wilkey (13-7) came in the second inning and tossed eight strikeouts for the win.
East Carolina gears up for a midweek doubleheader at No. 11 Duke on Wednesday with the first game scheduled for 4 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.