Feb. 24, 2013
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The University of Pittsburgh softball team (5-5) finished 4-1 at the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic after a split on the final day of competition with a win against Valparaiso and an extra inning loss against Dayton at Buchanon Park.
The Panthers topped Valpo (3-4) by a score of 7-5 in the opening contest, and then dropped a heartbreaker to Dayton (2-7) in nine innings by a score of 6-5. On the weekend, Pitt tallied wins against South Dakota State, Western Michigan, Western Kentucky and Valparaiso.
Holly Stevens finished the tournament 6-for-15 at the plate with two home runs, five RBI, three doubles and six walks. Savannah King was 3-1 in the circle and also went 6-for-11 at the plate with three RBI.
Game One: Pitt 7, Valpo 5
After two and a half innings of scoreless ball, the Panthers put up three runs in the bottom of the third. Kathryn Duran led off the inning by battling back from an 0-2 count to earn a walk. Two batters later, Tori Nirschl hit an RBI triple to left field, giving Pitt a 1-0 lead.
Ashlee Sills was next to the plate and she provided the Panthers with a 2-0 advantage after an RBI single to left center field. Pitt added a third run two batters later as Taylor Henry scored Sills from second base with a rope down the third base line.
Kaila Balatgek and Kathryn Duran led off the bottom of the fourth inning with back-to-back doubles which gave the Panthers a 4-0 lead. After a groundout which moved Duran to third, Ashlee Sills walked, putting runners on first and third. Sills would then intentionally get caught in a run down, and with the Valpo defense preoccupied with Sills, Duran scored from third, putting Pitt up 5-0.
Valpo threatened in the top of the fifth inning by recording three consecutive singles to load the bases with no one out. However, no runs would cross the plate as Savannah King recorded two fly outs and a strikeout to get out of the inning.
The Panthers scored in the exact same fashion in the bottom of the fifth inning, this time though, it was Carissa Throckmorton getting caught in a run down between first and second, allowing Morgan Choe to score from third. That gave the Panthers a 6-0 advantage.
In the top of the sixth, the Crusaders once again loaded the bases and capitalized by putting up four runs, bringing the score 6-4. The first six Valparaiso batters reached base safely, and in total, the Crusaders scored their four runs on six hits.
An RBI double by Holly Stevens provided Pitt with a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Crusaders would once again apply pressure in the bottom of seventh. Joylyn Ichiyama led off the inning with a solo home run, which was followed by a walk, a single and a throwing error to load the bases. However, King locked in and retired the next three batters to preserve the victory.
Game Two: Dayton 6, Pitt 5 (Nine Innings)
The Panthers struck in the top of the first inning as Tori Nirschl scored after she reached base with a leadoff walk. Nirschl advanced to second on a groundout, was called safe at third on a fielder's choice, and crossed the plate on a sac fly by Taylor Henry.
Dayton responded with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the first. Natalie Mariano opened the inning with a double and would eventually score on a sac fly. Jordan Jennings also scored for Dayton as she came around on back-to-back singles.
Another sac fly for the Panthers would even the game at 2-2, but Dayton put up two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on four hits.
Dayton carried that lead into the sixth inning until Nirschl launched an opposite field two run homer which tied the game at 4-4. Her second round-tripper of the season also scored Carmelena Moffa who recorded her first career hit with a one out single.
Neither team would be able to score in the seventh inning as Pitt entered its first extra inning game of the season. With Savannah King starting out on second base in the eighth (International tie-breaker rule), she advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sac fly by Nirschl. However, Dayton would score its runner from second base in the bottom of the eighth, tying it at 5-5.
Pitt went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth inning, and with Dayton runners on first and third with two outs, the winning run crossed the plate on a fielding error.
Nirschl was 1-for-3 in the game with three RBI, two runs scored and a walk. Carissa Throckmorton was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Dayton pitcher Kayla English pitched all nine innings, allowing six hits, issuing five walks and striking out nine batters.
The Panthers head to Orlando, Fla. next weekend for the ESPN Citrus Classic. Pitt will play James Madison, No. 12 Louisiana-Lafayette, LIU Brooklyn, Fordham and Fairfield.