The East Central University softball team split a pair of games in the opening day of the Great American Conference series with Arkansas-Monticello at Lady Tiger Field. The Lady Tigers (19-14, 11-10 GAC) earned a 3-2 win in the first game of the day and then fell 3-8.


ECU was led by reigning GAC Player of the Week sophomore Autumn Suydam, who hit .500 for the day. Suydam garnered three hits and two runs. Sophomore Lauren Reeves added a .429 average with three hits as well.


Redshirt freshman Sydney Dow earned the win in the circle in the opening game, throwing a complete game. Dow allowed four hits and two runs, while striking out 12 batters. Sophomore Lacey Paulk started the second game and struck out four batters in three innings, while junior Brianna Nunley finished the game and recorded four K’s.


Before the start of today’s games, Director of Athletics Jeff Williams honored head Coach Destini Anderson with a game ball from her 200th career win March 21 at Southern Nazarene.


The teams will wrap up the series, Sunday, March 30 with a double-header starting at noon at Lady Tiger Field.


Game 1 – ECU 3, UAM 2

Both teams held each other scoreless until the Cotton Blossoms (21-16, 12-12 GAC) earned the first runs of the game in the top of the third, going up 0-2.


The Lady Tigers waited until the bottom of the fourth to respond, and took a 3-2 advantage when they did. Reeves started the inning with a single to right field and sophomore Leah Tigert followed with a fielder’s choice. Senior Gina Mengwasser sent Tigert to third with a double to right center.


That allowed sophomore Jordynn VanPelt to earn an RBI with a ground out to second. Dow added an RBI with a single to right field to tie the game. The final run of the inning scored when sophomore Amanda Edmundson reached on an error and a 3-2 lead.


Both team’s pitchers then took over again allowing just two hits each in the final three innings for the 3-2 final.


Game 2 – UAM 8, ECU 3

UAM came out ready to fight in the top of the first, scoring four runs for the early 0-4 advantage.


ECU cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the second for a 2-4 score. After the first out, VanPelt and Suydam hit back-to-back doubles to put runners on second and third. Junior Kayci Snider sent the first run across the plate with a single to right and junior Kaile Marcum added the second with a ground out to short.


The Cotton Blossoms added to their lead with a run in the third and two in the fourth for a 3-7 advantage.


The Lady Tigers tallied one more run in the bottom of the fifth for a 3-7 score. Junior Samantha McGraw started the inning by being hit by a pitch and was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior Chelsea Patterson. She moved to third when Reeves grounded out to second and scored when Tigert hit a double to left center.


UAM added a final run in the top of the seventh for a 3-8 lead.


ECU had runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, but was unable to get any more runs across the plate and fell 3-8.