LAKELAND, Fla. – Less than a week after a sweep of conference rival Lynn University, the Saint Leo softball team traveled to Lakeland, Fla. and defeated the Florida Southern Moccasins in an 11-inning battle by a score of 5-1. The win extended their Sunshine State Conference championship and post-season hopes.
Freshman hurler Alana Tabel took the mound for the Lions in the pitchers' duel tossing four solid innings before junior lefty Sarah Steiner came in for relief duties for the next six innings. After the Lions scored four runs in the top of the 11th inning, however, senior Megan Still came in to pitch the bottom of the 11th and close out the game. The pitching trio allowed 10 hits and seven walks on the evening, while striking out six.
Both the Lions and Moccasins were scoreless through three full innings, and it was the Mocs who took control of the board first, scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead.
The Lions threatened in the top of the sixth inning, when sophomore speedster McKenzie Burns blasted a double to start off the inning and easily took third base. With two outs and Burns on third, Saint Leo's Rachelle Gremo stepped to the plate and sent a sky-high pop fly to the Mocs' third baseman Gianni Artidiello, who committed an error and allowed Burns to score unearned and tie the score at 1-1.
At the end of the regulation seven innings, the Lions and Mocs completed three more innings before either team scored a run. In the top of the 11th, the Lions took advantage of a walk and back-to-back singles from Gremo and Brittany Ewing to push pinch runner Emily Holman across the plate and take a 2-1 lead. The intensity continued for the remainder of the inning, as an infield single from sophomore Kelsey LaNeave sent two more runs home to give the Lions a four run lead.
With the Mocs unable to score in the bottom of the 11th, the Lions took home their 18th Sunshine State Conference win of the season.
In total, the Lions collected nine hits on the evening, in addition to three walks and three stolen bases.
The Lions will return to action on Friday, Apr. 26, when they wrap up the Sunshine State Conference series against the Florida Southern Mocs with an afternoon doubleheader. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
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