CLEARWATER, Fla. – It was a difficult Friday evening for the Saint Leo softball team (4-4) as they fell in consecutive games in the first day of action at the Eckerd Invitational Tournament. In the first game of the day, the Lions fell to Columbus State (4-2) by a score of 4-1 in eight innings. Shortly afterward, the Lions dropped a non-conference game to their Sunshine State Conference rivals, Florida Tech (3-4), by a score of 1-0.
The real struggles for Saint Leo came at the plate, as they collected only eight hits out of 35 opportunities in the doubleheader.
In the first game of the evening, the Lions took the Columbus State Cougars scoreless through two innings of softball until Saint Leo pitcher Megan Still gave up a homerun to the Cougars' Kori Waugh in the top of the third inning.
In their last chance to produce something offensively, the Lions capitalized in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out on the board, senior Rachelle Gremo sent the first pitch of her at-bat roaring down the right field line for a stand-up double. On the next groundout, Gremo advanced to third base, just in time to watch junior Sarah Steiner receive the intentional walk. The next batter, junior Kylee Hardesty, then took first base after a full-count walk, loading the bases. With the count in her favor, sophomore Kaitlynn Diaz then ripped a line-drive past the Cougar's third baseman to score Gremo from third base and tie the score at 1-1.
In the top of the eighth inning, which featured a Texas Tiebreaker runner at second base, the Cougars scored 3 runs on a slew of hits strung together by Branigan Wix, Kori Waugh, and Taylor Turner. In the bottom of the eighth, however, the Lions were unable to make a comeback.
Despite the loss, Still only gave up five hits while striking out nine Cougar batters. It is her first loss of the season.
Shortly after their first loss of the day, the Lions were unable to plate any runs during the second contest of the doubleheader, falling to the Florida Tech Panthers in regional non-conference action. Saint Leo's freshman Alana Tabel got the start for the Lions, but the stagnant offense was no match for Florida Tech pitcher Amanda Smith.
The only run of the contest came late in the game, when the Panthers' Ashley Montion singled to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning. A wild pitch from Tabel allowed Montion to advance to second base, and a sacrifice bunt byKelsey Donahue sent Montion safely to third. After a Saint Leo fielding error on the next play, Montion was able to score and secure the lead for the Panthers.
The Saint Leo Lions return to the field tomorrow when they take on Palm Beach Atlantic in regional action at 4:0 p.m. and Colorado Christian at 6:30 p.m. from the Eckerd Invitational Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.