COLUMBUS, Ga. –In their first night of regular season action, the Saint Leo women's softball team split a pair of games on the opening day of the PBC-SSC Challenge tournament, Saturday evening from S. Commons Complex. The Lions defeated No. 10 Columbus State (1-1) by a score of 5-0 in their season opener, just before falling to No. 12 North Georgia (2-0), by a score of 5-2.
In total, the Lions registered eight hits on the day, but their defense faced the strongest test as they battled the fully capable bats of the Columbus State Cougars and the North Georgia Saints.
Leading the offense for the Lions was junior-transfer Chelsey Steedley, who went 3-5 on the day and collected the first Saint Leo homerun of the season when she sent one over the left-centerfield fence during the Lions' game against North Georgia. Sophomore speedster McKenzie Burns also played a large part in the Lions' offense, going 3-7 at the plate and stealing four bases.
The first run of the year came early in the first game, after a first inning single by junior-transfer Brittany Ewing allowed Burns to score easily. Soon after, Steedley crossed the plated after senior Rachelle Gremo grounded out to third base.
Although the first two runs of the game came early on, the Lions weren't able to string anything else together again until the top of the 6th inning, when Burns stole home plate yet again. Four batters later, an error by Columbus State's catcher allowed Ewing to cross the plate, and moments later, another error allowed Steedley to reach home safely.
Holding the Cougars scoreless was the work of the Lions' freshman pitcher, Alana Tabel (1-0), who threw a complete game for her first win donning the green and gold. Holding Columbus State to just five hits and one walk, Tabel notched four strikeouts on the day after facing 26 batters.
Despite the Lions' early win to start off their 2013 campaign, Saint Leo was unable to get the offense going against North Georgia as the Saints' freshman pitcher, Courtney Poole, struck out 14 and allowed only 3 hits.
It was once again McKenzie Burns who put the Lions on the board first, scoring on an error during the top of the first inning. North Georgia did not reach home plate until the bottom of the second inning when the Saints' Kayla Minger and Katie Garnett scored on a single by junior Sarah Johnson.
In the top of the third inning, Saint Leo's Chelsey Steedly answered back and blasted a homerun to tie the game at 2-2, but the Lions' offensive effort died down from there. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Saint's Kim McMillan sent one over the centerfield wall to take the lead, 3-2. A few batters later, freshman Meagan May scored an unearned run on a passed ball. In the 5th, May scored another run on a double by Martin to end the Saints' offensive campaign.
The Lions' pitching staff, comprised of junior-transfer Sarah Steiner (2 innings), senior Megan Still (3 innings) and sophomore Ashley Ehlers (1 inning), allowed four earned runs on the evening while striking out six and walking only one. Steiner (0-1) took the loss in the effort.
The Lions will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 3, when they continue the PBC-SSC Challenge with a doubleheader to end the round-robin tournament. Saint Leo will take on UNC-Pembroke at 11:30 a.m. and Armstrong Atlantic at 2:00 p.m., just before heading home from S. Commons Complex.
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