Lady Bucs stifle Monmouth

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The Lady Bucs' softball team tacked another two wins onto its record before it hits the road for a five-game, 24-team tournament at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. The ETSU women shut out the Monmouth Hawks 5-0 and 3-0 Wednesday afternoon at the Metro-Kiwanis Park
   "I was really pleased with the way we played," said ETSU head coach Amy Fuller. "Last week, we had a rough week, so it was nice to see us coming back and bouncing back and hitting the ball. Our pitchers are doing a good job, so I think that will be nice going into the tournament this weekend."
   Belinda Barrera allowed only one hit by the Lady Hawks in the first game, holding down the defense while Danielle Spetar wreaked havoc offensively, racking up three RBIs in the first two innings.
   After two Hawk fly outs and an out at first base from a third-baseman Lindsay Lane toss to Miranda Byerly, Janine Sprague hit a triple on the Lady Bucs' first stance at the plate. Center fielder Spetar popped a fly ball to left field for ET
SU's second out, but not before Sprague raced across the plate for a run.
   As the chorus of 50 Cent's "Magic Stick" rang out, 6'0" junior Lane, who hit 3-3, worked her hocus pocus with a double and stole third on a wild pitch by Danielle Ellement. Taking advantage of the setup, Rhea Holler hit a single that sent Lane home.
   In the top of the second frame, the next three Lady Hawks to the plate returned to the dugout empty-handed, save for a strikeout and two outs at first base.
   For ETSU, Jessica Lonsinger and Mary Beth Hazelwood, both hitting 2-3, and Sprague (2-4) smacked singles to load the bases. Spetar followed the trend with a single that sent Lonsinger and Hazelwood across home plate to make the score 4-0.
   "I definitely expected our hitters to hit more," said Monmouth coach Carol Sullivan. "We actually scored nine runs against Furman yesterday and had a lot of hard contact. I was hoping to continue that into today."
   In the third, Barrera walked Monmouth pitcher Ellement, but a Lane-Hazelwood-Byerly double play caught her at second and Monmouth right-fielder Dusty Archer at first for three outs, crushing the chance of a dash around the bases.
   Lane and Tiffany McVay hit singles in the third for ETSU, but Monmouth gave the Lady Bucs three outs before they could follow through. Byerly made a base hit in the bottom of the fourth, but was tagged out at second base.
   Lady Hawk Dawn Gilchrist took a stroll to first after being hit by a pitch in the fifth, but was left hanging as the Lady Bucs collected three consecutive outs. After Spetar flew out to center field, Lane used her magic stick to smack a home run across the left center fence to make the score 5-0. The Monmouth infielders put a fast stop to the celebration with two mirror outs at first from third-baseman Sue Micchelli.
   Kristen Wilson made Monmouth's only hit in the first game, with a single in the top of the sixth.
   In game two, the Lady Bucs made a quick run in the first inning, scoring the only three points of the game before the Lady Hawks even made the first out. After Sprague and second-basemen Stephanie Gaynord made it to base, Spetar hit a double, scoring two RBIs. Lane (2-3) stepped up to the plate and hit a single, scoring another run on Spetar.
   ETSU pitcher Courtney Jenkins handled the top of the second inning single-handedly, striking out two batters and catching a fly ball. In the third, Jenkins struck out the first two batters, but Wilson, who hit 2-4 in the second game, bunted her way to first base. Jenkins walked Dana Pasini with a pitch that hit her leg, but a Micchelli fly out to third base sent Monmouth back into the field.
   "The first game, with Belinda, they only got one hit, and then this game, I think they got five hits, but we got the first of every inning, so they weren't able to capitalize on it," said Coach Fuller.
   The Lady Hawks loaded the bases in the fourth with a double to left field by catcher Ashley Dellens and singles from Breanna Steins and Tiffany Kenney. Monmouth pitcher Angela Rand hit a fly ball to left field for the second out, leaving the pressure on Archer. With a full count and the bases loaded, Jenkins threw a strike, allowing Buc fans to breathe easy once again.
   "Both of these pitchers that we faced were very accurate," said Sullivan of Jenkins and Barrera. "They didn't make too many base pitches and getting spots is a lot."
   Sheryl Clark and Byerly made base hits in the fourth for the Lady Bucs, while Wilson and Micchelli knocked singles for Monmouth in the fifth. However, both defenses held strong throughout the remainder of the game, and ETSU took the 3-0 victory.
   "We've tried to give our hitters as many live looks as we can against our own pitchers," said Coach Sullivan. "This is actually only our third time out playing. Sometimes it's just a case of them second-guessing themselves. It's still early in the season, and they're indecisive. Sometimes we take a little while to get warmed up and get more confident."
   The ETSU softball team (10-11) will compete in the Winthrop Wringer Invitational March 12-14, staying on the road until their next home game against Radford University on March 31.