Pirates sweep softball doubleheader at Furman in season opener

ECU Pirates

Bailey Ledvina (ECU Sports Information photo)

GREENVILLE, S.C. – East Carolina outscored Furman 19-5 in a doubleheader sweep to start the 2021 campaign Friday inside Pepsi Stadium, defeating the Paladins 7-1 in game one before taking the nightcap by a 12-4 score.

The Pirates are 2-0 for the second time in three seasons while the Paladins (0-2) look to regroup before traveling to the Winthrop Invitational next weekend.

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ECU pounded out 23 hits in the two affairs, picking right back up where it left off in 2020 when it hit .298 as a team in 23 games during the COVID-19-shortened season. Erin Poepping notched a win and a save, allowing just one earned run and piling up 12 strikeouts in six innings of work in the double dip.

Game One
Bailey Ledvina was the story of the season opener, launching two home runs as part of a four-RBI performance. She entered the day with no career long balls but posted a solo shot in the fourth and a three-run bomb in the seventh. Ashleigh Inae also enjoyed a productive effort at the dish, notching two hits, an RBI and a stolen base while Olivia Narron went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Sophie Wools and Courtney Layton also accounted for a base knock apiece.

Four different Furman batters picked up base hits in the game while Mackense Greico drove in the Paladins’ lone run of the contest.

Kama Woodall (1-0) picked up her first win of the season in the circle, limiting the home team to one run on four hits with five walks and two strikeouts. Poepping collected her first save of the campaign, tossing two scoreless frames and striking out four Paladin batters. Bailey Tanner (0-1) was tagged with the loss after surrendering four runs (three earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk.

Furman threatened right away in the bottom of the first. Ashlee Lykins was hit by a pitch before Natalie Morgan reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to third via a pair of wild pitches. With two away, Woodall answered with a swinging strikeout to keep the contest scoreless. The Paladins loaded up the bases in the home half of the second with one out, but Woodall was up to the task again, fanning Amanda Fleming looking before inducing a 5-3 to escape the jam.

ECU created some two-out magic in the top of the third to jump on top. Taylor Woodring was hit by pitch and Narron singled to left field. Inae then shot a single up the middle that allowed Woodring to score and Narron to move to third. The throw ended up off the mark and Narron jogged home to put the Pirates ahead 2-0. Furman cut the lead in half in its portion of the third thanks to an RBI double off the bat of Mackense Greico.

It didn’t take long for East Carolina to respond as Ledvina launched a 2-2 offering over the wall in right center to extend the Pirate upper hand back to two runs. Chandley Garner made it 4-1 in the top of the fifth with an infield single that scored Woodring from third after she led off the frame with a walk.

Poepping found herself in a big moment in the bottom of the sixth with her side up three runs. After Woodall walked the first two batters of the home half, Poepping entered the game and proceeded to strike out the side to preserve the Pirates’ advantage.

Ledvina took all of the drama out of it in the top of the seventh. After Garner walked with two outs and Narron at third base, the sophomore crushed a 1-1 pitch down the right field line, and it cleared the fence to provide the game’s final six-run margin. The Paladins threatened slightly in the bottom of the seventh, but ECU turned a game-ending double play.

Game Two
Ledvina and Narron continued their strong days at the plate in the nightcap, each going 3-for-4 while Ledvina collected her third home run of the doubleheader in the top of the seventh. Inae and Ledvina each drove in three runs to complement two-RBI performances out of Narron and Sophie Wools. In the top half of the fifth inning, Wools cleared the wall in left center for her first career home run. Shelby Basso rapped out a pair of hits for Furman.

Poepping (1-0) recorded the victory in relief, tossing four innings of one-run softball. She struck out eight Paladin hitters in the 17 she faced. Basso (0-1) threw a complete game but allowed 12 runs (eight earned) on 14 hits with three strikeouts and two walks.

East Carolina’s offense got going in a hurry to start the game. Narron singled on the infield before Inae was hit by a pitch. They would steal second and third with one out, then score when Ledvina singled through the left side. The Pirates tacked on a run thanks to a Furman error to exit the frame with a 3-0 lead.

Basso helped herself in the bottom of the second with a two-out solo home run that cut the ECU advantage to 3-1. After a scoreless third by both sides, East Carolina worked a little two-out magic to extend its cushion to five. With Woodring on first and pinch runner Gianna Edwards on third, Narron lined one over the left fielder’s head and it bounced all the way to the wall for a triple that scored both runners. Inae followed quickly with an RBI double that left the Pirates with a 6-1 edge.

Greico clubbed a two-run homer in the home half of the fourth to make it a three-run contest. However, Wools responded right back by driving a 2-1 offering out of the park to score Ledvina and push the East Carolina lead to 8-3.

With the Pirates in front 8-4 after six innings, the Purple and Gold left no doubt in the top of the seventh. Ledvina led it off with a solo home run before Woodring lined an RBI single down the left field line. Narron loaded the bases later in the inning with a single up the middle and Inae’s subsequent base knock scored two more runs to propel ECU ahead by eight. Poepping worked around a Paladin base runner in the home half to seal the win.

Up Next: The Pirates return to South Carolina next weekend for the Battle at the Beach on the campus of Coastal Carolina University. East Carolina will face Buffalo, Saint Francis (Pa.) and the host Chanticleers over five games during the event inside St. John Stadium.

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