Junior Kaila Balatgek
March 1, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Pittsburgh softball team (8-8) defeated Butler 6-4 in its opening game of the Kentucky Tournament, and then suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to #8/7 Kentucky in nine innings on Saturday at John Cropp Stadium.
Carly Thea was 5-7 at the plate today with three doubles and slugged .714. She is now batting a team-best .400 through the first 16 games. Savannah King pitched all nine innings against the Wildcats and allowed just four hits while striking out five. The Panthers out-hit both opponents today and had 17 total hits in the two games combined.
Game 1: Pitt 6, Butler 4
The Panthers raced out to a 6-0 lead and withstood a four-run seventh inning from the Bulldogs (4-11) to hold on for the victory in their opening game of the tournament.
Alexa Larkin went 6.2 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs (all earned) while striking out three. She threw six shutout innings, but got into some trouble in the seventh innings as Butler plated all four of its runs in that frame. Savannah King came in to get the final out of the game en route to her second save of the season.
After a scoreless first inning, the Panthers plated three runs in the bottom of the second. Maggie Sevilla led off by getting hit by a pitch and then a double by Thea put runners on second and third. Two batter later, Balatgek singled home Sevilla. Manuel would then single to score Thea and advanced to third when Butler threw Balatgek out at home. Duran would then single home Manuel for Pitt’s third run of the inning.
Jordan Fannin led off the third inning with a single and Thea’s second double of the game scored Fannin for Pitt’s only run of the frame. Pitt would add two more runs in the fourth courtesy of RBI singles from Henry and Throckmorton.
Taking a 6-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning, Larkin allowed a single and a walk to the first two batters, but then got a lineout and a fly out for the first two outs of the inning. Butler would put together a rally however, and a bases loaded walk, followed by an RBI single chased Larkin out of the game with a 6-2 lead.
King would enter and she issued another bases loaded walk, followed by a wild pitch which plated Butler’s fourth run of the inning. However, she got Butler’s Ogden to strike out swinging to end the game.
Pitt out-hit Butler 10-7 and received hits from eight different Panthers. Larkin improved her record to 3-3 on the season with the win. Butler stranded 13 runners on base throughout the course of the game.
Game Two: #8/7 Kentucky 4, Pitt 3
With Pitt clinging to a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, Kentucky (15-2) was able to plate two runs and defeated the Panthers 4-3 in walkoff fashion.
Thea was 3-4 in the game, while Tori Nirschl also had a multi-hit game going 2-4 at the plate. Carissa Throckmorton hit a two-run homer for her second round-tripper of the year and Pitt out-hit Kentucky 7-4.
Pitt wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Nirschl led off the game with a double, and two batters later she was brought home as Throckmorton roped a homer to left field.
Kentucky tied things up in the bottom of the fifth inning with a leadoff homer from Maisie Steed. Christian Stokes then walked, stole second, and was brought home two batters later with an RBI single from Ansley Smith.
After three scoreless innings, Pitt regained the lead (3-2) in the top of the ninth inning with an RBI double from Maggie Sevilla which scored Throckmorton. Pitt had an opportunity to turn a double play in the bottom of the ninth which would have ended the game, but was only able to get the out at home, and then the next batter, Smith, singled to left which scored two runs for the victory.
“Savannah pitched a great game,” head coach Holly Aprile said. “We jumped on them in the first. We needed to sustain that momentum and make a few more plays defensively. Beating a quality opponent like Kentucky requires us to make some big plays and we weren’t able to execute when we needed to. We are going to use this to get better and forge ahead as we start conference play.”
With a 90% chance of sleet and snow in the Lexington area, Pitt’s two scheduled games tomorrow have been cancelled. The Panthers will jump into ACC play next weekend when they travel to NC State for their first ever ACC conference series.
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