GREENVILLE, N.C. – First-year head coach Courtnay Foster didn’t have to wait to get her first win, or her second for that matter, as the Bucknell softball team opened the 2016 season with a pair of victories Friday at the ECU Pirate Clash. The Bison held on for a 5-3 win over Saint Francis in their season opener and followed that with a 6-1 win over host East Carolina later in the day.
Sophomore Meghan Kovac went 5-for-6 on the day, while freshman Lauren Hadley wasted no time in contributing for the Bison, going 5-for-7. Seniors Amanda Fazio and Dana Nielsen each improved to 1-0 in the circle.
Bucknell looks to carry its early momentum into its two games scheduled for Saturday. The Bison will play Massachusetts at 10 a.m. and will take on East Carolina at 3 p.m.
Game 1 – Bucknell 5, Saint Francis 3
Kovac went a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, and Fazio gave up one earned run over five innings of work as Bucknell won its season opener for the second straight year.
The Bison scored all five of their runs over the fourth and fifth innings, breaking a scoreless tie with two in the bottom of the fourth before adding three in the fifth. Kovac started the two-run fourth with a single and advanced to third on a one-out double by Anna Gimmestad. Chaylen Andolino came through with the clutch hit, a single to left field that plated both runners.
Fazio sparked the three-run fifth inning with a one-out triple, scoring on a double by Lauren Hadley one batter later. Kovac made it back-to-back doubles, scoring Hadley with her opposite field hit to right. Maddie Minneci, who pinch ran for Kovac, would later cross the plate on a fielding error.
Fazio went five innings to pick up the win, giving up two runs, one earned, on seven hits and one walk. She struck out four batters before giving way to a pair of relievers. Lara Bean pitched a scoreless sixth inning. Nielsen gave up one unearned run in the seventh inning to notch the save.
Kovac had two of the team’s five doubles, while Hadley, Gimmestad and Tyburk had one apiece. Fazio had two hits with a single and triple.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a tremendous team effort,” Foster said of the team’s first win of the day. “I am so proud to be a part of this group. The work they put in during the preseason showed today.”
Game 2 – Bucknell 6, East Carolina 1
Nielsen received the starting nod in the second game of the day and pitched six innings to pick up the win. She gave up one run on six hits and three walks while striking out an impressive nine batters. Fazio came in to pitch a scoreless seventh inning.
The Bison again played three scoreless innings before erupting for five runs in the fourth. Gimmestad, Tyburk, Fazio and Hadley all had singles in the inning, which saw the Bison score runs on a throwing error, a wild pitch and a fielding error, as well as the RBI hit by Fazio.
Bucknell tacked on one run in the sixth inning, which was started with a leadoff single by Carolyn Wan. Fazio also singled and would later score on a single by Kovac.
Hadley went 4-for-4 in the game, while Fazio and Kovac added two hits apiece. Gimmestad, Tyburk and Wan had one hit apiece.
"Dana Nielsen was in control all night and had a gritty senior debut," Foster said. "Carolyn Wan had a great night, as well. She really kept us in the game defensively and was a tough out at the plate."