March 12, 2013

Lions Snag 2 of 3 from NTC Triple-Header

CLERMONT, Fla. – The Saint Leo Lions softball team (20-10) spent the Tuesday of their spring break at Clermont's National Training Center participating in a tripleheader that featured three games back-to-back-to-back. Delayed by rain, the Lions first stepped onto the field at 3:45 p.m. and did not leave until nearly 9 p.m., after they had defeated the University of Sioux Falls Cougars by a score of 2-1 and the Bentley University Falcons by a 7-0 score. After a long day on the field, the Saint Leo Lions fell in their final contest to the Minot State University Beavers in a tough 7-0 loss.  

In the first game of the day, sophomore Ashley Ehlers took the mound for the Lions, tossing six solid innings before senior Megan Still came in for the save. Allowing only 3 hits in six innings of work, Ehlers struck out eight and walked just one in the win.

The Lions jumped on the board first, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Junior Brittany Ewing jumpstarted the inning with a lead-off single through the left side that ignited a spark in the Saint Leo lineup, for sophomore Kelsey LaNeave followed suit with a single through the left side, to which junior Kylee Hardesty answered back with a double to right field that scored Ewing from second base. On the next play, a groundout RBI from Angela Kafalas, LaNeave was able to cross the plate for the Lions' defining runs.

The second contest of the day differed greatly from the first in that the Lions were able to wake up their bats and tag seven runs to the scoreboard before their opponents, the Bentley Falcons, could score any.

Junior Sarah Steiner took the mound for the Lions in the win, throwing her first seven-inning complete-game shutout donning the green and gold. Steiner allowed just one hit while striking out six in the effort, in addition to collecting three hits and one RBI from her clean-up position in the Saint Leo batting order.

The Lions scored a run in almost every inning, beginning with a three-run headstart on the Falcons in the top of the first inning. Saint Leo first put themselves on the board thanks to singles from McKenzie Burns, Rachelle Gremo, and Sarah Steiner, in addition to a double from Ewing that helped to score the Lions' first three runs of the game. 

Saint Leo was able to tack on one run apiece in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings, thanks to fundamental hitting and execution. The Lions tallied 11 hits and six stolen bases in their second game alone, and all seven runs of the contest were earned. 

Much of the limelight was focused on McKenzie Burns in the second game, however, as she collected her 36th stolen base of the season and blasted the previous all-time record for steals in a season, previously held by Angie Brooks (35 steals, 1988).

The third game of the long, overcast day featured a loss for the Lions, as they battled the Minot State Beavers from Minot, N.D. Despite Saint Leo's efforts, the Beavers' pitcher, Mandy Greenberg, collected her sixth win of the season as she struck out 12 Saint Leo hitters, while allowing only four hits and no walks. 

Freshman hurler Alana Tabel got the start for the Lions in the circle, tossing three innings before senior Megan Still made her second relief appearance of the day. The Saint Leo pitching staff combined for five strikeouts in the contest, allowing nine Minot State hits and walking just one.

The Saint Leo Lions will return to action on Thursday, Mar. 14, when they host the visiting Flagler College Saints in regional action at University Stadium. First pitch of the doubleheader is slated for 3 p.m.

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