SAINT LEO, Fla. – Solid pitching and timely hitting led the Saint Leo softball team (17-18) to a pair of non-conference victories over the UMass-Lowell River Hawks (6-8), Saturday afternoon from University Field. The Lions blanked Lowell in game one by the score of 6-0, before edging the River Hawks in game two by the score of 3-2. The Lions have now won three-straight games.

Dianne Gonzalez and Ana Castillo each went 3-for-5 from the plate. Gonzalez added to her performance with a pair of runs scored and collecting her first triple of the season. Elysha Agen, Alex Garris, and Tiffinee Harvey also posted two hits apiece in the doubleheader, including Harvey’s sixth home run of the campaign. Also, Jaime Walker drove in a pair of runs while going 1-for-5 on the day.

In total, the squad collected 13 hits and seven different players scored a run for the Green & Gold.

In game one, the Lions exploded for five runs in the second inning. Gonzalez led-off the frame with a triple to right field and was brought home on an RBI single by Walker. After a River Hawks’ fielding error and a Garris single, the bases were loaded for Elysha Agen who drove in the Lions second run on a sacrifice fly. The series of events led Harvey to the plate with runners at second and third base. With one swing of the bat, the Lions’ senior made the score 5-0 and platted all three of her days’ RBI with her 11th career home run.

After an insurance run in the third inning, Lions’ starter Walker held true in the circle, allowing no more than one base runner over the final three innings. In the win, she scattered seven hits and struck out five in collecting her sixth complete game of the season and third shutout. The Surrey, British Columbia native evened her record at 5-5 for the year.

Game two was a tighter battle from beginning to end. In fact, it was the River Hawks who struck first as they opened scoring in third on an RBI single.

However, the Lions answered in the fourth inning collecting three runs on three hits. Gonzalez delivered her second RBI of the day with a single down the leftfield line to score Sarah Boyd. Lowell allowed the second run of the inning to score on a fielding miscue and Garris capped the frame off with an RBI infield screamer off the leg of the third basemen.

Both offenses remained silent for the majority of the next four innings until UMass-Lowell made one final push in the seventh.  Back-to-back singles started the frame for the River Hawks and each advanced 60 feet on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, a Lions error in the field cut the lead to one at 3-2. When it looked as though momentum was being swung back towards the opponents, an attempted squeeze was unsuccessful. The runner at third was trapped in a rundown and was tagged near third base for the final out, preserving the hard-fought Saint Leo win.

Ashton Whidden was solid in the circle once again for the Lions, tossing 7.0 innings and striking out four batters in her 12th complete game of the season. She improved her record to 11-7 for the year.

 After six games in four days, the team will take a break from action before heading down to Miami Shores, Fla. to open a conference series with the Barry University Buccaneers. Game one is set for Friday, March 26 with first pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

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