FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Saint Leo Lions softball team (24-13, 4-3 SSC) defeated the Nova Southeastern Sharks (13-19, 2-11 SSC) by a score of 6-2, Friday evening from AD Griffin Sports Complex in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The first game of the Sunshine State Conference series featured much back and forth offense at the beginning of the contest, before the Lions eventually pulled away and took the lead.
It was Saint Leo's McKenzie Burns who collected the first hit of the game for either side, stepping to the plate as the Lions' leadoff batter and blasting a single through the left side to give Saint Leo their first base runner. On the next play, freshman Tiffany Thompson sacrifice bunted Burns over to second base to give the Lions' a runner in scoring position. One out later, Burns stole second base and was able to advance home by a throwing error from the Sharks' catcher, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Nova Southeastern was able to answer back in the bottom of the first inning, scoring one run to tie the game. The Sharks' Lorena Spaulding led off the inning with a bunt single, and after a sacrifice bunt from Samira Tanaka and an error from Saint Leo, Spaulding stood safely on third base. Two pitches later, Nova's Chrissy Tabulov blasted a double to left-centerfield, scoring Spaulding and tying the game.
In the top of the second inning, the Lions collected another run to take the lead. Junior Brittany Ewing led off the inning with a single through the right side, and advanced to second when Chelsey Steedley drew a walk. Sophomore Angela Kafalas then sacrifice bunted Ewing and Steedley up one base apiece, and the groundout from Torrie Weindorf that followed allowed Ewing to safely take home.
The Sharks' third at-bat allowed Nova Southeastern to tack on another run and tie the game back up at two in the bottom of the third inning. It was again Lorena Spaulding who led off the inning, blasting a triple to right-center to immediate give the Sharks a runner in scoring position. One out later, Nova Southeastern's Chrissy Tabulov reached on a bunted fielder's choice, as Spaulding slide safely into home to tie the game yet again.
Never letting up, the Lions again took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, with Saint Leo's Kafalas drawing a two-out walk to jumpstart the offense. Weindorf then walked as well, and a Sharks throwing error allowed Kafalas to take third and Weindorf to safely take second base. On the next play, pinch hitter Kylee Hardesty stepped up the plate and double through the left side, scoring both Kafalas and Weindorf and putting the Lions up by two. With junior Jackie Carey pinch running on second base for Hardesty, Burns singled to left field and advanced Carey to third. On the next pitch, Burns stole second base, and in the Sharks' confusion, Carey stole home to give the Lions' their third run of the inning. On the next play, Thompson reached first base safely on a Sharks error, and Burns was able to turn on her speed and score to put the Lions up, 6-2.
Although Senior Megan Still started the game in the mound for the Lions, sophomore Ashley Ehlers collected the win in the effort. Still and Ehlers combined for seven strikeouts in the game, allowing just five hits and three walks.
Offensively, Saint Leo collected seven hits and five walks for the day, in addition to four stolen bases.
The Lions continue Sunshine State Conference action tomorrow when they take on the Nova Southeastern Sharks from AD Griffin Sports Complex in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 1 p.m.
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