CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Saint Leo softball team dropped a pair of games as they opened play at the Eckerd College Spring Invitational, Friday afternoon from the Eddie C. Moore Complex. Drury University ousted the Lions 8-4 in the opener, before dropping an extra-innings affair to West Florida (5-2), 4-1.
The Lions struggled at the plate for the majority of the night, as they hit .141 as team. However, Tiffinee Harvey continued her brilliant start to 2010, going a combined 3-for-7. Sarah Boyd and Elysha Agen each delivered doubles, while Amber Martyn made her one hit stick as it was deposited over the leftfield fence for her first home run of the season. Dianne Gonzalez and Danielle Moreda added to the Lions eight total hits with pair of singles.
It was not the prototypical start for the Green & Gold in game one. Saint Leo, who had been outscoring opponents 9-to-6 through the first two innings, faced a steep challenge out of the gate as the Drury Panthers scored six runs over the first two frames.
The Panthers used three hits, two walks, and a pair of Saint Leo errors to open a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. After a scoreless top of the second, the Panthers showcased the long ball to extend their lead to 6-0. First, a two-run blast off the bat of Ball made the score 5-0 and a solo blast by the following blast increased the lead by one.
The Lions clawed their way back into the game in the fourth inning when Harvey started the frame off with her first triple of the season. After Yates reached, Gonzalez connected on a flare to right field to score the Lions first run. Ana Castillo followed with a groundout to score Boyd, cutting the deficit to four.
Drury answered the Lions call in the bottom of the inning by scoring two more runs on three hits and two SLU miscues. It did not shake the Lions confidence though as they used the top of the fifth to cut the lead the lead back down to four. Harvey started the rally with a two-out single which was followed by a Brittany Yates walk. Finally, Boyd brought the both of them in on an RBI double to right center.
Unfortunately, the Lions could not muster enough offense to overcome the opening deficit, falling 8-4. In the process, Harvey’s seven-game hitting streak to start the season was snapped with a 0-for-3 effort in the nightcap.
Kristen Kelly took the loss for the Lions, dropping to 0-3 on the season. She was responsible six runs in an inning and two-thirds. Jaime Walker was stellar in relief, throwing 4.1 innings, striking out two hitters, and not allowing an earned run.
In game two, the Lions and Argonauts exchanged zeros for the majority of the contest. It took until the sixth inning before the scoreboard was cracked with a run. In the sixth, the Argos were able to get to the steady Ashton Whidden when Melissa Chastang connected on a triple and came around to score on the same play as a result of an error.
The Lions, who were held hitless going into the final frame, were brought right back into contention when Martyn sent the first pitch she saw over the leftfield fence for a game-tying home run. Agen followed with a double, but was eventually stranded at third before she could cross the plate.
The Argos took advantage of the missed opportunity in the “Texas Tie-Breaker” eighth inning, scoring three unanswered runs to take a 4-1 lead. The advantage held and Saint Leo fell in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Jillian LaFrance took to the circle for West Florida and in the end, mowed down 14 Lions’ hitters. Ashton Whidden, on the other hand, threw fantastic for SLU. She threw a career-best eight innings, scattered nine hits and allowed just two earned runs, while striking out six. Whidden now stands at 3-1 on the season.
The Lions continue action at the Eckerd College Invitational on Saturday, February 20th. A pair of region contender stand in their way Valdosta State and Flagler are on tap. First pitch against Valdosta State is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. with Flagler to follow around 1:30 p.m.
Both games can be heard on the SaintLeoLions AudioCast Network.