TAMPA, Fla. – Despite a trio of Lions’ hitters collecting two hits, the Saint Leo softball team (18-21, 5-5 SSC) fell in the opening game of their Sunshine State Conference series-opener against the University of Tampa (16-10, 7-3 SSC) by the score of 5-3, Wednesday evening from the Tampa Softball Field.

Leading the Lions offensive charge was Jaime Walker as she went 2-for-3 with double and two RBI. Elysha Agen also delivered a double in a 2-for-4 performance, while Tiffinee Harvey roped two singles and scored a run as she went 2-for-4. Brittany Yates and Dianne Gonzalez rounded-out the Lions eight-hit night with a pair of singles.

It was the Spartans that struck first, as they collected two runs on three hits in the opening frame. The big hit came off the bat of Becky Vyvas as her RBI single opened the scoring.

Tampa added to their lead with their second two-run inning of the ballgame in the third inning, Of the three hits surrendered, two were infield singles, one of which led to the Spartans fourth run of the contest.

The Lions remained resilient, however, as they bounced back in the fifth inning with a run of their own. Walker led the inning off with a single and eventually scored on a two-out double by Agen, cutting the Spartans’ advantage to three.

Saint Leo kept the offense rolling in the sixth inning, as they platted two runs on three hits. Harvey and Yates singled and Gonzalez walked to load the bases with one out. Walker than stepped to the plate and dropped a two-RBI double into the leftfield ally to cut the Lions’ deficit to 4-3.

Unfortunately, the tying and go-ahead runs were left on base as Kari Walsh took to the circle to strikeout the next two batters.

Tampa put the game out of reach in the bottom of the frame as Jessica Tejas sent an RBI single into leftfield to push the score to 5-3. SLU couldn’t answer in the final inning as the top of the lineup went down in order.

Ashton Whidden was tagged with the loss as she threw 6.0 innings and allowed 11 hits and five earned runs. Still, the junior matched her season-high in strikeouts with six.

The Lions will conclude their SSC series with Tampa in doubleheader action Thursday afternoon. First pitch is set for 6;00 p.m.