CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Saint Leo softball team (5-1) swept day one of the Eckerd College Invitational, Friday afternoon from the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The Lions defeated first-year program Colorado Christian (0-1), 7-5, in the opener, before downing West Florida (2-4), 7-5, in a rain-shortened regional nightcap.
Power hitting, strong defense, and timely pitching guided Saint Leo to the pair of comeback wins.
In total, the Lions registered 23 hits in the sweep. Eight Lions recorded two or more hits, while three Lions punctuated the evening with at least three hits. Alex Garris led the squad as she went 5-for-7 with a pair of runs scored, while Dianne Gonzalez clobbered her first home run of the season en route to a 4-for-7 night. McKenzie Burns topped the evening off with a three-hit performance. Gonzalez also led the team with three runs scored and four RBI.
Game one saw Saint Leo immediately load the bases in the top of the first inning. However, Ali Lamb plated the only Lions' run of the inning as her RBI single gave Saint Leo an early 1-0 lead. First-year program Colorado Christian posted three runs in the bottom of the frame to claim a two-run advantage. The Lions answered a half inning later as Rachelle Gremo blasted a three-run homerun over the left centerfield fence to reclaim the lead. The 4-3 lead was extended to 6-3 in the fourth inning as a pair of extra-base hits by Brittany Yates and Danielle Moreda provided the eventual game-winning runs. The Cougars responded with a run in the sixth, but a Burns RBI bunt single in the top of the seventh solidified the two-run win.
Kristen Kelly earned the victory as she went five innings, surrendering two earned runs. Freshman Ashley Ehlers bookended Kelly's performance with her second save of the season as she posted a pair of strikeouts.
The Lions faced another deficit in game two as West Florida platted two runs in the top of the first inning. Still, Saint Leo remained patient at the plate as they produced its first run of the evening off a Burns' bunt single. After the Argos took a 4-1 lead in the third, Saint Leo countered with their biggest run scoring inning of the season. Yates and Moreda posted back-to-back RBI doubles to cut the deficit to 4-3. Lamb then tied the contest during the following at-bat with a single, before Gonzalez highlighted the inning with a two-run shot to left field. Gremo's RBI single capped the frame and gave the Lions a 7-4 lead. UWF added a fifth run, but it was not enough as rain interrupted the region contest and gave the Lions another 7-5 win.
Lazar struck out four batters in 3.2 innings as she collected her second win of the season. Megan Still also threw well in the circle as she went 1.1 innings in a save situation.
In total, the Lions drew seven walks and struck out only five times, while slugging over .700 as a team.
The Lions will return to action on Saturday, February 11, when they continue the Eckerd College Invitational with a single game against No.21 Armstrong Atlantic. Game time is set for 4 p.m. from the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla.
For the latest news, information, and updates on the softball team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.