BOCA RATON, Fla. – The 25th-ranked Saint Leo University softball team notched their second-straight series sweep and their eighth consecutive victory as the Lions defeated host Lynn University 2-1 and 5-3 in Sunshine State Conference action on Saturday afternoon.
It was a doubleheader that saw the Lions (37-14, 17-4 SSC) trail in the late innings of both games, but each time Saint Leo managed to rally for thrilling victories.
In the opener, the Fighting Knights (19-27, 5-15 SSC) plated their only run in the bottom of the third inning, and behind the solid pitching of Kasey Murray, it looked for a while that the single tally would be all Lynn needed for the victory. It would be miscues in the field that would allow the Lions back into the contest.
Entering the fifth inning trailing by a lone run, Kelsey LaNeave reached on a throwing error to lead off the frame and Angela Kafalas's attempted sacrifice bunt was misplayed by the LU defense for an infield hit. With two runners on base and no outs, Torrie Weindorf's single up the middle scored LaNeave to knot the game.
After a ground out advanced the runners to second and third, and a pop out put two outs on the board, Weindorf broke the tie when she scored on a wild pitch on an errant ball that the Lynn catcher could not track down at the backstop.
With the 2-1 lead, Saint Leo only needed nine outs to pull out the opening win and claim the series after Friday's no-hit victory.
Things did not look so optimistic in the second game as Lynn took a 3-1 lead on the Lions by virtue of fielding errors and crafty play from the Fighting Knights and held onto the advantage into the sixth inning.
In the sixth, the Lions trimmed the Fighting Knight margin to one as a bases-loaded sacrifice fly from the bat of Kylee Hardesty scored Chelsea Steedley.
It was the seventh inning when the magic really happened as an inning-opening single, followed by two bunt singles loaded the bases for leadoff hitter McKenzie Burns. Burns drove a 1-1 pitch into left field for a fielder's choice that scored Emily Holman to knot the game at three. Steedley, the next batter in the lineup, blasted a double off the right-center field wall to score two more Lions and make the game 5-3.
Megan Still would come on in the bottom of the seventh and, despite a catcher's interference call, downed the lineup to claim the victory.
In Game One Weindorf took home the batting accolades with a 1-for-3 effort along with and RBI while Game 2 saw Steedley go 2-for-3 with three RBI and the game-winning hit.
While Alana Tabel took yesterday's accolades in the circle, today's decisions went to Still who picked up both wins, coming in relief and overcoming deficits in both games.
With the sweep, the Lions remain atop the Sunshine State Conference entering the final week of the regular season. The road to a Sunshine State Conference Championship will have to go through Lakeland, Fla. as the Lions will face Florida Southern in the season's final series.
The first game of the final three SSC contests gets underway at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday night.