TAMPA, Fla. – The Saint Leo softball team began and ended their fall exhibition season, last weekend at the University of South Florida Tournament. Due to their scheduled doubleheader against Pasco-Hernando Community College being washed out, the Green & Gold only had four game-time situations to work material in preparation for their 2010 spring schedule.

Halloween day provided the first two opportunities for the Lions, as they drew competition from St. Petersburg College and Pasco-Hernando Community College. In their first game against the Lady Titans, both sides demonstrated solid defense as they rolled through the first three innings with no runs on the board. However, in the bottom of the fourth inning SPC linked three consecutive hits to push a run across the plate. That one run proved to be the difference as the Lions were not able to produce much with the bats, falling to the St. Petersburg College, 1-0. Despite the loss, solid pitching performances and outstanding defense allowed Saint Leo within striking distance.

In the second game of the day, the Lions’ bats awoke as Danielle Moreda, Dianne Gonzalez, and Tiffinee Harvey connected on three big hits to help give SLU a 4-0 advantage in the first inning over the Pasco-Hernando Conquistadors. Saint Leo continued their offensive explosion in the third inning when Elysha Agen sent a bases-clearing double to the wall to make the score 7-0. After PHCC plated their first run of the game in the bottom of the third inning, SLU pitching shut down the Conquistadors for the next two innings. The Lions’ offense though refused to take a break as they padded their lead with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth on hits from Harvey, Ana Castillo, and Jaime Walker. Five more Saint Leo runs over the next two innings, proved to be more than enough as the Lions secured a 14-4 win. Walker was pitcher of record, allowing only one run over 4.0 innings of action.

Day two of the tournament presented a pair of formidable opponents for the Lions, as Florida State College and tournament host school the University of South Florida remained on the schedule. First on tap for Saint Leo were the Manatees from FSC. Defense and pitching was the name of the game for the first four innings, as Ashton Whidden limited the Manatees to just four hits and striking out two batters in the scoreless effort.  However, FSC capitalized on two hits and a walk in the top of the fifth inning. The hits led to the first two runs scored by either team heading into the bottom of the inning. Sarah Boyd led the inning off with a pinch-hit double and later scored on a Katie Gwinn double to cut the lead in half. Walker had an impressive sixth inning, striking out the side and solid defense kept the deficit at 2-1 going into the final frame. Unfortunately, the Lions struggled to produce with the bats as they fell by one run for the second time in the tournament.

The final game of the tournament and fall was against division I powerhouse South Florida. Scoring opportunities were missed by both teams through the first two innings, as defense once again took the spotlight. The Bulls, however, capitalized on a Lions’ defensive miscue and six hits over the next two innings to open a 4-0 lead. Saint Leo refused to go away quietly though as they answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 4-1 on a Brittany Yates sacrifice fly to bring in Castillo. The Lions couldn’t bring the score any closer as they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Bulls.

On the weekend the Lions were led offensively by Danielle Moreda, Ana Castillo and Tiffinee Harvey who hit .444, .400, and .364 respectively.  The Lions will go back to conditioning and individual workouts to get ready for the 2010 season.