softball

Senior Kendra Ziemba readies at the plate during a previous game. 

After kicking off the season last weekend in South Carolina with two wins and three losses, the East Carolina University softball team (2-3, 0-0 AAC) will host the first half of its 10-game homestand tomorrow at the ECU Softball Stadium with the beginning of the Pirate Clash.

The Pirate Clash will host three rival teams of Hampton University (1-0, 0-0 Big South), George Washington University (0-5, 0-0 A10) and DePaul University (2-3, 0-0 Big East) in a total of ten scheduled games.

“I don’t think it's as much challenges as it is opportunities to get better,” senior catcher Abigail Umphlett said. “I think playing back-to-back you are going to see some fatigue, but I think our practices have set us up to be able to succeed. So I think that will be one thing, just getting used to having back-to-back games and just bringing the stamina and being able to play well both games.”

The weekend will kick off with a match up between Hampton and George Washington at 10 a.m. on Friday. This game will be immediately followed by George Washington facing DePaul at 12:30 p.m. The Pirates will make their first appearance in the first half of their double header at 3 p.m. when they take on Hampton.

ECU has not faced Hampton in softball since the 2010 campaign where they won the only two games the teams have played against each other. The Pirates were able to completely shut out Hampton in both games. The first finishing with a 9-0 final score and the second one having a final score of 12-0.

With only one game under their belt for the 2020 season, it is hard to get a good gauge on what Hampton has to offer. It defeated North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (0-1, 0-0 MEAC) in its first game of the season 15-4.

Even longer since they have met, ECU will take on DePaul at 5 p.m. on Friday. DePaul and East Carolina have not been on the same field since 2005. Both teams faced each other three times in the 2005 match up and DePaul came out on top winning two of those three games.

“DePaul is gonna be a really tough game for us. We are gonna take care of business with Hampton first and then DePaul is an NCAA tournament team,” head coach Courtney Oliver said. “Every game is important. We don’t treat any game different than the other. I always tell the team to make sure that you don’t play to the name on the chest. You play everybody the same and we respect the game.”

DePaul, similar to ECU, comes into the Pirate Clash with a 2-3 non-conference record. With sophomore Gabby O’Riley going to bat with a .333 average so far this season and junior Natalie Halvorson primarily on the mound with 10 strikeouts and an 8.25 earned run average.

On Saturday the tournament will pick up again at 10 a.m. with George Washington and Hampton meeting on the field. Followed shortly after with Hampton taking on DePaul at 12:30 p.m. The Pirates will finish off the day with back-to-back games against first George Washington and then DePaul again.

ECU faced George Washington the last time in 2008. They only played one game and the Pirates won with a 6-1 final score, almost shutting them out completely.

George Washington currently has four pitchers on their roster including sophomore pitcher Megan Osterhaus who will be entering the game with three shutouts, 12 base on balls and 17 runs. Senior Jenna Cone stands out batting for George Washington. Going to bat 14 times this season with an average of .357 and five hits.

With the season early the Pirates are seeing a lot of depth from their roster. After starting the season with two wins against Campbell University (1-4, 0-0 Big South) and losses against three other teams in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic, the Pirates are looking forward to a ten game homestand.

The biggest difference in our team this year is we have so much more pitching than we usually have,” senior outfielder Olivia Narron said. “So that is a plus. We have a lot of different tools, plenty of outfielders, lots of speed, lots of power hitters, so that’s the main things I would say about our team this year.”

Freshman right handed pitcher Logyn Estes picked up her first collegiate win in the circle and first home run against Campbell last Sunday and pitched nine innings throughout the weekend. Junior right handed pitcher Erin Poepping pitched 12 innings during last weekend's tournament, making appearances in three games, and struck out 11 batters.

Junior Chadley Garner stands out thus far this season as a strong hitter, walking away from last weekend with .400 batting average and three runs scored. Redshirt senior utility player Rachel McCollum (five) and Narron (four) led the team in scoring runs and junior infielder Ashleigh Inae led the team in on base percentages with .529.

ECU also has an advantage of having more upperclassmen on the roster than they have had in several seasons. With seven juniors and six seniors filling out the 23 player roster. This allows for more leadership and experience on the collegiate field that the team had been lacking in previous seasons.

“Ashleigh Inae is a great leader out on the field, always talking,” Umphlett said. “Then we have some fifth years, Tate (McClellan) and Rachel (McCollum), great experience. I think as a whole the underclassmen look up to them and the rest of the leaders on the team. It has been good and that has helped out a lot too with the chemistry.”

The Pirates will begin their 10-game homestand on Friday at 3 p.m. at ECU Softball Stadium. They will play at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and at 11:30 a.m on Sunday.

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