SAINT LEO, Fla. – The 14th-ranked Saint Leo softball team split with Rollins on Friday to end the regular season but won the final series 2-1. The Lions freshman, Amanda James tried to steal the seniors spotlight with a walk-off grand slam in game one (12-8) before the Lions fell, 6-3, in game two to the Tars at University Softball Stadium.
Saint Leo moved to 37-13 on the year after the two games and finished with a 17-7 mark in the Sunshine State Conference. On Friday night, the Lions honored their five seniors who will graduate on Saturday, April 29. On 'their' night, Stephanie Adkins went 1-1 in the circle after winning game one and dropping game two. Adkins pitched eight innings and gave up six runs on nine hits while striking out six batters.
Rachael Heath led the team from the batter's box going 4-for-5 for a .800 batting average with two runs scored and two RBI. Two of Heath's hits were triples, one in each game.
Samantha Ohmie was second on the team on the night going 5-of-7 (.714 Avg.) with two runs and three RBI. Ohmie smacked a two-run home run in game one in the fourth inning.
The story line of the night: runners left on base for the Lions and a first career home run as a walk-off grand slam. Freshman Amanda James took a 1-2 pitch over the right center wall for her first career home run, which was a grand slam, ending the first game in favor of the Lions, 12-8. On the night, Saint Leo left 17 runners on base, with 12 in the final game which put the anchor around the game and sank the Lions.
GAME ONE – #14 Saint Leo 12, Rollins 8
Saint Leo struggled out of the gates as game one starter, Alison Mitts, gave up four runs in the top of the second to put the Lions behind early in the game. Sara Neuman would come into relief Mitts for 2.2 innings, giving up three hits and two runs. Mitts would return to finish the night with 3.1 innings of work allowing nine hits and six runs. Stephanie Adkins closed out the game going 1.0 innings but allowed one hit in the seventh inning.
Mitts ran into trouble after she got the first out with one pitch in the second inning. The Tars ripped off five straight hits forcing a pitching change. Neuman came in and ended the inning to hold it to a 4-0 Rollins lead.
The Lions answered with one in the bottom half as Samantha Ohmie came around to score after leading off with a single to the shortstop. Brittany Creamer grounded into a double play but with no outs, it allowed Ohmie to score the Lions first run of the night.
Rollins got right back to work in the top of the third and scored a run as Chelsea Reed, who reached on a fielder's choice, scored on a Rachel Minier single through the left side.
It wouldn't be until the bottom of the fourth when the Lions started getting things going scoring three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Ohmie belted her eighth homer of the year scoring Ciera Schumaker as well. Rachael Heath would score the Lions another run as she reached via a single before swiping second base. Michelle George knocked in Heath to cut the game to a one-run game, 5-4, after the fourth inning.
The Tars pushed back out to a 6-4 lead with one in the top of the fifth before the Lions took the lead in the bottom half with three runs. Kacie Kelly, Sarah Pauscher, and Olivia Prieto all scored in the inning to put the Lions on top 7-6. Kelly came in on a Pauscher single up the middle. With two on and two outs, the Tars fielders were playing in for Heath before the senior from Zephyrhills, Fla. ripped one over the heads of the outfielders into left center, earning herself a triple.
A leadoff solo homer in the top of the seventh was the first of two Tar runs. Following a triple down the line by Reed, Adkins came into relief Mitts. Grace Street would come in and hit a pinch hit single, scoring Reed, as the Tars tied the game 8-8.
In the bottom of the seventh, Pauscher led off with a double followed by a sacrifice bunt from Heath moving her to third. With the winning run standing on third and one out, the Tars intentionally walked not only Creamer but George to load the bases for a force at any base. With a 1-2 count, the Saint Charles, Ill. Native, Amanda James, crushed her first career home run, ending the game in grand style with a grand slam.
Heath finished with a perfect 2-for-2 from the plate. Ohmie went 3-for-4 in the contest as Kelly, Pauscher, and George all collected two hits.
GAME TWO – Rollins 6, #14 Saint Leo 3
Following the senior ceremony, Saint Leo would pick up where they left off in game one scoring one in the bottom of the first. Quickly out of the gate, Kacie Kelly singled to put a runner on instantly before a Samantha Ohmie single to center field scored Kelly from second.
Game two starter, Stephanie Adkins worked a quick second inning, like her first, with three up and three down. Adkins had recorded two strikeouts in the first six batters faced.
A crazy ending to the second inning left the Saint Leo fans stunned as the bases were loaded when Kelly hit a blooper to left field with one out where the left fielder dropped it but threw it to second for the second out who then threw to second getting the inning-ending double play. The Lions left the bases juiced for two consecutive innings.
Rollins tacked on two more in the top of the fourth to take a 4-1 lead before a solo homer in the top of the fifth made it 5-1 in favor of the Tars.
Saint Leo answered back in the bottom of the fifth with one run as Rachael Heath led off with a triple down the right field line. Ciera Schumaker stepped up and singled to right field scoring Heath to cut the deficit to 5-2.
Back-to-back doubles to left center in the sixth inning allowed the Lions to close the gap to 5-3 with one full required inning to play.
Adkins came out and got the first out to ground over to Ohmie at first, who picked up the ball and tagged first base. A single, walk, fly out to right field and another single would drive in the final run of the contest as the Lions failed in the bottom half to empty the bases. Saint Leo left 12 ducks on the pond, as game one hero, James stepped in with the bases juiced again and flew out to second base into shallow right field.
Kelly went 3-for-4 with two runs scored ahead of the Lions' 2-3-4 hitters who all went 2-for-3 in Heath, Schumaker, and Ohmie. Pauscher held strong in the five hole going 2-for-4. Danielle Bottley was credited with the Lions another hit on the night.
Adkins pitched the complete game and allowed six runs on eight hits while striking out five batters in the contest.
UP NEXT Saint Leo will await either the NCAA Division II Selection Show on May 8 or one Tampa Spartans loss to Florida Southern on April 29, whichever happens first to determine their fate for the postseason. If the Spartans fall to the Moccasins in one of their two scheduled games, the Lions will receive the automatic qualifier for the NCAA postseason tournament.
For more information on the Saint Leo softball program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.