FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Saint Leo softball team (25-13, 6-3 SSC) defeated the Nova Southeastern Sharks (13-21, 2-13 SSC) in two games, Saturday afternoon from AD Griffin Sports Complex in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. In addition to a win on Friday night, the Lions' two wins on Saturday sealed the 3-game SSC series sweep of the Sharks.
Much like the first game of the series, the Lions were the first to put a run on the board during the second day of conference action, scoring five runs in the top of the first inning of game one. It was again McKenzie Burns who led off the inning for Saint Leo, drawing a walk and stealing second base in typical Burns fashion. The rest of the inning passed in a blur of two dropped third-strikes, two hit-by-pitches, two walks, and one Sharks' pitching change. In fact, only Brittany Ewing registered a hit in the inning, while McKenzie Burns, Brittany Martinez, Rachelle Gremo, Brittany Ewing, and Chelsey Steedley combined for five unearned runs.
With Nova Southeastern unable to score throughout the contest, the Lions were able to tack on three more runs in the top of the fifth inning for the eight-run. It was junior Chelsey Steedley who led off the inning when she blasted a solo homerun over the left-field fence and junior Kylee Hardesty then kept the offense going with a single through the left side. With Jackie Carey pinch running for Hardesty, Angela Kafalas stepped to the plate and sent a double to the left-center wall. Torrie Weindorf then sacrifice bunted Kafalas over to third base, and a wild pitch allowed Kafalas to take home plate for the Lions' eighth run of the game.
Freshman Alana Table collected the win in the first game of the day, tossing a five-inning complete game to improve her record to 9-5 on the season. Tabel collected three strikeouts in the effort, allowing just four hits and one walk.
The second game of the day featured a different beginning, as the Sharks were the first to put a run on the board. In the bottom of the first inning, Nova's Lorena Spaulding led off with a bunt single, giving the Sharks a base runner. After Spaulding stole second, Samira Tanaka collected a single that allowed Spaulding to score and give the Sharks their first lead of the series.
In their next at-bat, the Lions launched an offensive attack to gain the lead. In the bottom of the second inning, Gremo led off for the Lions with a hit-by-pitch, and was advanced to second on a groundout from Ewing. On the next pitch, Steedley blasted an infield single that allowed Gremo to reach third, just before Steedley stole second base. With two Saint Leo runners in scoring position, Hardesty stepped up to the plate and sent a single through the right side that allowed both Gremo and Steedley to score, giving the Lions a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the second, however, the Sharks came back to tie the game at two. Nova Southeastern's Shelby Talon began the inning for the Sharks, leading off with a double down the right-field line. After a quick Saint Leo pitching change, Talon was moved over to third base by a sacrifice bunt, and one out later, Nova's Melanie Spicola collected an infield single that allowed Talon to score and tie the game at 2-2.
Again, the Lions would not accept a tied ballgame, so in the top of the third, Saint Leo launched another offensive attack that would eventually score ____ runs. Once again, Burns started off the infield with an infield single and quickly stole second base. Shortly afterward, three consecutive hits from Thompson, Steiner, and Gremo allowed for two runs to score and put the Lions up by two. After a strikeout from Ewing, a single from Steedley coupled wit a Sharks error allowed two more Saint Leo runners to score, giving the Lions a 6-2 lead.
The Sharks were able to tack on more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring two runs off of a combination of a walk and two singles, but it wasn't enough, as the Lions followed suit and scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning thanks to singles from Steiner, Gremo, Steedley, and Hardesty to make the score, 8-4.
In the bottom of the six, the Sharks again scored two runs off of four singles and two Saint Leo errors to put the score at 8-6. However, the Lions answered back in the top of the seventh, scoring one more run when a double from Ewing scored Gremo and gave the Lions a 3-run lead.
Saint Leo's Ashley Ehlers started in the circle for the Lions before Megan Still and Alana Tabel came in for relief duties. As a pitching staff, the Lions combined for five strikeouts in game, allowing 13 hits and just one walk. In addition, Tabel collected both wins for the day.
Offensively, Saint Leo collected 18 hits and five walks on the day, as well as a grand total of nine stolen bases.
The Lions continue Sunshine State Conference action on Thursday, Mar. 28, when they head to Melbourne, Fla. to take on the Florida Tech Panthers. First pitch of the contest is set for 7 p.m.
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