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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Softball

Softball loses opener, blazes to victory in double header


The softball team was able to use strong pitching and an explosive offense to close out their series against the ECU Pirates. | File photo/The Cougar

The softball team opened conference play with a series win away against the East Carolina Pirates. The Cougars won two out of their three games this weekend, including a shutout in their rubber match on Saturday.

Going into the series, it was key for the Cougars to score more than five runs, as they had not lost a single game this season when they exceeded that total. That held true this weekend as the Cougars won the final two games of the series by the score of 10-7 and 11-0.

On Friday, the Cougars lost 3-2 in eight innings, failing to get any real offense mounted against the Pirates. The softball team had 28 at-bats but managed to secure only six hits, with no hitter achieving more than one.

In addition, the Cougars had only two less strikeouts than hits, and they managed to leave six players on base throughout the game. That wasted a solid outing from junior Savannah Heebner, who only gave up three earned runs in seven innings pitched against a team that was averaging seven runs scored over their previous nine games.

After losing a nail-biter on Friday evening, the Cougars turned it around on Saturday and blasted the Pirates in a double-header that saw the Cougars outscore their opponents 21-7, including a definitive 11-0 victory to close the weekend.

In the early game, the team walked away with the win after an eruption at the plate. Six different batters recorded at least one RBI, with sophomore Sarah Queen leading the way with three of her own. During a game in which both sophomore pitcher Trystan Melancon and junior pitcher Presley Bell gave up more runs than their season average, having the support of their teammates was the key to walking away with the victory.

In the final game of the three-game series, everything came together for the Cougars, who displayed a dominant pitching performance to go along with an explosion of runs from the offense. On offense, Queen once again stepped up to the plate and had herself an all-around performance. Queen had a home run to go along with two walks and three RBIs to help power the team to 11 runs in six innings.

As electric as the offense was, Heebner was purely dominant on the mound, recording yet another complete-game shutout. Over the course of six innings, Heebner recorded more strikeouts (3) against the Pirates than hits allowed (2). Both hits recorded by the Pirates were singles, helping to keep the pressure off of the defense.

On paper, the Cougars were the clear favorite coming into this weekend. After a disappointing start to the series, the softball team showed how dangerous it can be during any given game by averaging more than 10 runs over the final two games of the series.

The Cougars will return to Cougar Softball Stadium to host the UCF Knights in a three game series. First pitch for game one Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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