March 5, 2013

NTC Doubleheader No Match for Lions Softball

CLERMONT, Fla. – The Saint Leo softball team collected two more wins Tuesday night from the National Training Center's Spring Games in Clermont, Fla. The night featured a five-inning 12-1 win over the Georgian Court Lions just before the Lions took a five-inning 8-0 game over the University of the Sciences Devils.

Junior Sarah Steiner got the start for Saint Leo in the first game of the night, tossing four innings before sophomore Ashley Ehlers came in for relief. Both Steiner and Ehlers combined for six strikeouts on the evening, allowing just four walks and two hits in five innings pitched.

The first game began slowly for the Saint Leo Lions, who only sent four batters to the plate in the top of the first inning against the Georgian Court Lions. In the top of the second inning, however, Saint Leo scored five runs to get the ball rolling. The inning began with a walk to pitcher Sarah Steiner, who was immediately pinch-run for by freshman Tiffany Thompson. One out later, Thompson stole second base, and after a second out, Thompson advanced to third base on a passed ball. With a runner on third and two outs, junior Kylee Hardesty stepped up to the plate and blasted a single up the middle to score Thompson for Saint Leo's first run. From there on out, Saint Leo continued to pound the home team, forcing three Georgian Court errors and collected four more unearned runs for the inning.

With the Georgian Court Lions unable to score in the bottom of the second, Saint Leo tacked on another run in the top of the third inning when Hardesty sent a groundball deep into the infield to score junior Chelsey Steedley from third base.

The Saint Leo Lions did not scoring after six runs, however, as they added six more runs to their collected in the top of the fourth inning. Freshman Jessica LoBianco jumpstarted the offensive attack to lead off the inning by forcing a fielding error from the Georgian Court third baseman to reach first base safely. LoBianco then took second base on a wild pitch, and after sophomore McKenzie Burns reached on an infield single, LoBianco was safely on third base. Faced with the possibility of another run scoring, the Georgian Court catcher threw down to third base on the next pitch in an attempt to pickoff LoBianco, but the throw went wide, allowing LoBianco to score and Burns to reach third base. An RBI sacrifice fly from freshman Stephanie Bagwell then allowed Burns to score, just before senior Rachelle Gremo walked to give Saint Leo yet another base runner. On the next play, Steiner singled through the left side, forcing Gremo into scoring position. After a Georgian Court pitching change, Saint Leo's Steedley then sent a single up the middle, which scored Gremo and moved Steiner up one base. The next play, a fielder's choice to shortstop for sophomore Kelsey LaNeave, kept two Saint Leo runners on base, although Steiner was tagged out at third base for Georgian Court's second out of the inning. With two runners on and a full count, Hardesty then tagged a three-run homerun over the left-centerfield fence to put Saint Leo ahead, 12-0.

Georgian Court was able to answer back, however, when they scored one earned run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Briana Molino led off the inning for the home team, sending a double to right-center field for Georgian Court's first hit of the game. Taylor McDonough then flied out to right field, advancing Molino to third base. Two batters later, Emma Erbig singled to right field to give the Georgian Court Lions their only run of the contest and allowed Saint Leo to take the game with the eight-run rule.

Freshman Alana Tabel took the mound for the Saint Leo Lions in the second game of the night against the University of Sciences Devils, throwing six innings and striking out ten. Allowing only one walk and three hits, the win signaled Tabel's seventh win donning the green and gold.

The second game of the evening began much like the first, as the Lions were again slow to score. The first runs came in the bottom of the third inning, when Steiner led off with a one-out walk to give the Lions a base runner. With freshman Brittany Martinez pinch-running for Steiner, Steedley then singled through the left side to advance Martinez and take first base. On the next play, LaNeave reached on a fielder's choice to second base while Steedley took second base safely from a Devils' error and Martinez scored. Hardesty then singled to centerfield, forcing another Devils error and scoring Steedley. One batter later, the Torrie Weindorf reached on a fielder's choice to the pitcher, and LaNeave slid safely into home before any outs were made.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Lions tacked on two more runs thanks to three Devils' errors and a single by Saint Leo's Hardesty. With the Devils unable to score any runs through their five offensive innings, the Lions ended the game in the bottom of the fifth by tacking on six more runs and ending the game with the eight-run rule. In addition to one Devils error, the Lions collected four hits, four RBIs and seven base-runners in the bottom of the fifth alone. 

In addition to an astounding 18 hits, the Lions collected seven stolen bases while walking five on the night. The Lions pitching staff, highlighted by stellar performances from junior Sarah Steiner, sophomore Ashley Ehlers, and freshman Alana Tabel, combined for sixteen strikeouts and just five walks, while allowing only five hits. Junior Kylee Hardesty highlighted the night with a grand total of nine RBI's.

The Lions will return to action on Friday, Mar. 8, when they take on the University of Tampa in Sunshine State Conference action at home from University Stadium. First pitch is slated for 7:00 p.m.

For more information on the Saint Leo softball program, be sure to visit saintleolions.com. Also, make sure 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' the Lions on Twitter and Instagram.