SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo softball team (2-2 SSC) fell in the first game of their second Sunshine State Conference series in a 3-1 loss to the visiting No. 11 University of Tampa Spartans (15-4, 3-1 SSC). The loss dropped the Lions' record to 17-8 on the season.
Senior Megan Still started in the circle for the Lions in the first match-up of the weekend, tossing four and two-thirds innings before freshman Alana Tabel took the mound in relief. Although the Spartans took the win, the Lions pitching staff combined for seven strikeouts and allowed only two walks in the contest.
The University of Tampa Spartans were first to put a run on the board, scoring first in the top of the third inning. Designated hitter Erika Shick jumpstarted the inning with a single to centerfield, followed by a bunt single from Tampa's Brie Walton which advanced Shick to second base. The Spartans then sent pinch runner Meagan Brislin to second base, just before Katie Bannon sent a single up the middle to advance all runners one base. First baseman Meagan Burke then sent a single to left field, which scored Brislin and put the Spartans up, 1-0.
The Lions answered back in the bottom of the fourth inning, when McKenzie Burns led off with a walk to first base, and was able to steal second base safely. One out later, a groundout to first base allowed Burns to take third base, just before a single to left-centerfield by junior Chelsey Steedley sent Burns home to tie the game.
Moments later, the Spartans took the lead yet again by scoring two more runs in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Brie Walton collected another infield single to quickly give the Spartans a base runner. The next batter, sophomore Kayleen Boatright then sent a scorching double to the left-centerfield fence, which scored Walton and put the Spartans ahead for their second lead of the game. Two batters later, Meagan Burke snagged her second hit of the night by ripping a double to the left-centerfield wall, which scored Boatright and put the Spartans up by two.
The Saint Leo Lions will return to the field on Saturday, Mar. 9, when wrap up the Sunshine State Conference series against the visiting Tampa Spartans. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 1:00 p.m.
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