SAINT LEO, Fla. – No. 4 Saint Leo softball dropped both ends of the Sunshine State Conference doubleheader with No. 25 Tampa Thursday evening at University Softball Stadium. The Lions mounted two comebacks in both games but fell short to the Spartans.
Saint Leo (34-10, 15-6 SSC) scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh in game one to force extra innings where Tampa (27-8, 14-4 SSC) would score two to take game one. The Lions would tie the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth before a run in the seventh for the Spartans haunted the Green and Gold for the third straight game.
Mitts (9-3) got the start in game one where she pitched 7.0 innings with seven hits, three runs, and two strikeouts before Adkins (19-4) came into the game and pitched one inning, and gave up three hits and two runs with one strikeout before surrendering the winning runs.
Adkins came back out in the second game and pitched 4.0 innings with eight hits and four runs while striking out two batters before turning things over to Neuman (5-1). Neuman worked two clean innings before allowing one solo homer in the seventh inning and giving the win to Tamps. Neuman finished with three innings of work, one hit, one run and one strikeout.
From the plate, Kacie Kelly finished with the highest batting average yet again for the Lions. Kelly, who had a rough start to the first two games of the series, turned things around in the series finale going 3-for-3 from the plate. On Thursday, Kelly finished 4-for-7 with two runs scored, two doubles and two RBI on a .857-slugging percentage and a .625 on-base percentage.
GAME ONE - #25 Tampa 5, #4 Saint Leo 3 (8 innings) Alison Mitts and Corynn Miner were both stellar for the first four innings allowing no runs across for either team before the Spartans got to Mitts and score two in the top of the fifth.
Tampa would tack on another in the top of the seventh before a crazy bottom half of the inning would tie the game at 3-3 forcing extra innings. In the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, Kacie Kelly would single to left center to give the Lions a two-out base runner. Rachael Heath followed her up with a bloop single down the left field line putting two runners on for Ciera Schumaker.
Schumaker dug into the box and on the final strike for the Green and Gold, shot one to right center where the Spartans' center fielder, Shelby Press came up firing for home trying to help preserve the win. An error on the catcher, Maddie Farrell, allowed Heath to come in to score the second run behind Kelly before an errant throw from Farrell allowed Schumaker to dive in for the tying run.
Tampa got right back to work in the top of the eighth, bringing seven batters to the plate in the inning. A leadoff single was followed by a pop out and a walk before the Spartans no. 2 hitter, Taylor Farrell, hit a single to left field loading the bases. With two outs, the Spartans saw a single to left field scored two runs to take a 5-3 lead. With runners still threatening, a shot up the middle was snagged by a diving Brittany Creamer who flipped it to Kacie Kelly covering second for the final out and stopped the bleeding in the top of the eighth.
Four batters in the bottom half were all the Lions could bring to the plate. Michelle George tried to keep the two-out magic going with a single to second base but was not enough for the Green and Gold.
GAME TWO - #25 Tampa 5, #4 Saint Leo 4
Tampa wasted no time in the second game scoring one run in the first inning with three singles and a hit-by-pitch before the Lions answered in the bottom of the first. Kacie Kelly led off the final game for the Lions with a walk before Rachael Heath sacrificed herself to move Kelly over. Ciera Schumaker grounded out to the right side of the field moving Kelly to third. Samantha Ohmie came alive hitting a two-out double to right field scoring Kelly to knot things up.
Hurler Stephanie Adkins would keep the threat in the top of the second at bay so the Lions could get back to work in the bottom half, where they put up two runs. Danielle Bottley and Sarah Pauscher drew walks to lead off the inning before back-to-back outs brought up Kelly. Kelly hit a 2-RBI double to left field to push the Lions ahead 3-1.
Adkins got into trouble in the fourth inning allowing three runs on three hits, after facing seven of the Spartans nine batters. Adkins got out of the inning thanks to Rachael Heath who threw out a runner trying for home where Sommer Pollard caught the ball and tagged the runner to end the inning.
Saint Leo would tie the game in the bottom of the sixth on a base knock from Sarah Pauscher to the shortstop.
Sara Neuman's only flaw came in the top of the seventh when she gave up her lone hit for a solo shot to Bree Setree to right center. The Lions saw Kelly hit a one-out double in the seventh to put the Lions' tying run in scoring position. Alison Mitts made her first career appearance at the plate for the Lions where she drew a five-pitch walk to put two on with one out where the Lions flew out and lined out to end the game.
UP NEXT Saint Leo steps out of conference when they travel to West Palm Beach, Fla. to take on Sunshine State Conference provisional member, Palm Beach Atlantic on April 21 and 22.
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