SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo Lions (15-7, 2-1 SSC) took home their first Sunshine State Conference series as they split a Saturday afternoon doubleheader with the visiting Barry University Buccaneers (11-7, 1-2 SSC). The Lions took the first game by a score of 5-3, just before falling to the visiting Bucs, 4-2.
Freshman Alana Table took the mound in the first game for the Lions, tossing four and two-thirds inning before sophomore Ashley Ehlers came in for relief duties. Tabel and Ehlers combined for three strikeouts and just one walk in the contest.
In typical Saint Leo fashion, the Lions were the first to put some runs on the board by scoring two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore Angela Kafalas was able to jumpstart the inning when she sent a one-out short outfield single down the right field line to give the Lions a base runner. On the next play, sophomore Torrie Weindorf laid down a bunt that forced a Barry error and allowed both Weindorf and Kafalas to advance safely. The next batter, sophomore McKenzie Burns, sent a single up the middle to move up all runners by one bag and load up the bases. Junior Britney Ewing then sent the ball to the third baseman, who committed a throwing error, allowing all runners to advance safely and Kafalas to score the first Lions run of the game. The next batter, senior Rachelle Gremo, took first base freely on a walk from the Barry pitcher, which allowed Weindorf to score, unearned.
Barry answered back in the top of the third inning by putting one run on the board to make the score 2-1. Barry's Britney Pugh jumpstarted the inning with a screaming double to left field to give the Buccaneers a runner in scoring position. Kelly Martinez then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Pugh to third, and two batters later, Kristina Pazienza sent a single down the right field line to score Pugh.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Buccaneers scored two more runs to go ahead of the Lions when clean-up hitter Julie Brito sent a two-run homerun over the left-field fence to put the score at 3-2 in favor of Barry.
The Lions were able to tie the score in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to back-to-back hits as well as speed on the bases. Weindorf led off the inning with a single up the middle, just before freshman Jessica LoBianco took her place on first base as a pinch runner. Burns then advance LoBianco to second base on an infield single to put two runners on. On the next play Ewing sent a deep flyball to right field that allowed LoBianco to take third base, and Burns was able to steal second base on the next pitch to put two runners in scoring position. Gremo then sent a pitch deep into the infield to allow LoBianco to score.
After a scoreless top of the sixth for Barry, the Lions were able to take the final lead of the game when sophomore Kelsey LaNeave connected with a pitch and sent it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. The homerun marked LaNeave's first career homerun.
The second game of the afternoon doubleheader was much less exciting, as both teams struggled to score against tough pitching from both dugouts. Senior Megan Still started for the Lions in the circle, tossing six and one-third innings before Ehlers again made a relief appearance. Although Ehlers took the loss, the Lions pitching staff combined for two strikeouts and only allowed three walks in the contest.
Once again, Saint Leo was the first team to put a run on the board, scoring first in the bottom of the fourth inning. Burns jumpstarted the inning with a single up the middle, just before Gremo sent a double to the center-field fence to score Burns and put the Lions ahead.
With the Buccaneers unable to produce anything offensively, the Lions scored again in the bottom of the sixth inning after junior Sarah Steiner walked with the bases loaded to send a Saint Leo runner home and put the Lions ahead, 2-0.
In the top of the seventh inning, the visiting Bucs made their presence known as they launched an offensive attack that would eventually seal the game. Barry's Natalia Ojeda began the inning with a double to leftfield, just before Katelyn Hehre took her place on second base as a pinch runner. A bunt single from Megan Copeland then advance Hehre to third base, just before senior Sarah Broeseker walked to load the bases. Barry's Julie Brito then sent a base-clearing double to right-centerfield to put the Buccaneers ahead, 3-2. Secondbaseman Kelly Martinez then singled through the left side to score yet another Barry runner and make the score 4-2 in favor of the Buccaneers.
With the Lions unable to answer back in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Buccaneers took the final game of the series.
Despite the loss in the final game, Saint Leo took home the series against Barry for the first time since the 2004 season.
The Lions combined for a total of ten hits on the day, in addition to seven walks and one stolen base.
The Saint Leo Lions will return to the field on Tuesday, Mar. 5, when they head to Clermont, Fla., to take on Wayne State University and Mary University in non-regional action. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 5:00 p.m.
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