Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

By Bethany Bradsher

'Comeback kid' making up for lost time

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

Quick: Name the athlete who led East Carolina to wins over Florida State, Indiana and Virginia in just two weeks time and was also chosen as the top honoree by Conference USA twice in three weeks.

Stumped? Meet ECU pitcher Toni Paisley, a sophomore from Lakewood, CA, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury and has announced her re-entry to Division I softball in dramatic fashion. Paisley is currently 6-2 with 69 strikeouts for the Pirates (9-5).

She is starting to fulfill the potential that led C-USA to name her Freshman of the Year two years ago, when she was an eager pitcher from the West Coast who chose ECU because she discovered that it was “a real family."

Paisley jumped right in last season in an effort to build on that rookie year, but after playing in seven games she injured her shoulder and ended her season.

What followed was a strict rehabilitation regimen that left her hungry for the intensity of manning the mound during a big-time game. During the preseason, head coach Tracey Kee even wondered if Paisley was so wound up about her return that she would come in out of control. But in Paisley’s first appearance – on Feb. 9 against Virginia, she limited the Cavalier offense to just three hits and one run and collected eight strikeouts.

“I had been building for a long time, and I think by the time it was game time, I was ready,” Paisley said. “There was no question in my mind.”

ECU’s pitching has peaked recently, with the pitching staff allowing just six runs, three earned, and recording a 0.68 earned run average in the last four games. Opponents have struck out 33 times and are hitting just .156 against the ECU staff in the last four contests.

“I have been extremely pleased with our pitching,” Kee said. “Toni Paisley has just come back like we were really hoping she would: Her mindset, her physical ability.”

That Virginia game, and the Pirates’ other two victories during opening weekend, led to Paisley’s first C-USA Pitcher of the Week award. But ECU’s next two tournaments after that – the Bama Bash and the Seminole Classic – presented the squad’s most daunting challenges and opportunities for players like Paisley to show that they aren’t intimidated by the top tier of softball programs.

At the Bama Bash, she struck out 10 to defeat Wisconsin and held Alabama, ranked No. 1 in the nation, scoreless for four innings even though the Crimson Tide defeated the Pirates 8-0.

The following weekend in Tallahassee, she picked up wins against Florida State and Indiana and was recognized with her second C-USA Pitcher of the Week award.

That pair of major tournaments represented a high hurdle on the Pirates’ schedule, Kee said, and ECU had some disappointing outings in which either pitching or hitting was lacking. But for the most part, the team keeps finding ways to stay in the battle.

“I think we’ve won games every which way possible,” Kee said. “We’ve won games with good pitching, we’ve won games with clutch hitting, we’ve won games with our defense, and we were in a couple of tight games, against Notre Dame and Michigan, that really could have gone either way.”

Now that they have warmed up with fire, the Lady Pirates welcome Houston to town this weekend. The Cougars are not only ECU’s first Conference USA opponent, they are also the team that shared the top of the preseason rankings with ECU this year. It’s a three-game series that can confirm all of the maturation the team has experienced up until this point, Paisley said.

“I think people are excited,” she said. “You look at the beginning of the year, and they ranked both of us at the top; it’s almost like this series is the deciding factor. It’s the only thing that matters right now.”

The Pirates play Houston at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, and they wrap up the series at noon on Sunday.

Send a message to Bethany Bradsher.

Dig into Bethany Bradsher's archives.

03/04/2009 02:36:15 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.