March 17, 2017Panthers Fall to Cards, 7-6, in Series Opener
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Pittsburgh softball team dropped a heartbreaker to Louisville, 7-6, Friday afternoon at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
In a back-and-forth affair that saw the Panthers [14-9, 0-4 ACC] out in front twice, the Cards [16-7, 1-0 ACC] got the best of Pitt as they walked off on a bases-loaded single in the final frame.
The Panthers tallied eight hits in the game, but were out hit as Louisville recorded 16. Erin Hershman led Pitt, going 3-for-4 with a double and two bunt singles. The junior also had two RBIs and scored two runs.
Senior Kaitlin Manuel and sophomore Olivia Gray each recorded two hits apiece, while freshman Valerie Ortega had one.
In the circle, junior Kayla Harris got the nod and tossed 3.0 innings before being replaced by freshman Brittany Knight at the start of the fourth. Harris gave up seven hits and two runs, while Knight let up nine hits and five runs, with just three earned.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Louisville struck first in the second inning, plating one on a two-out RBI single, but the Panthers answered in the top of the third to tie the game 1-1 in the same procedure.
With one away, Hershman reached first on a bunt single and stole her eighth base of the season to move to second. Following a strikeout by Edwards, Gray smacked a ball up the middle plating Hershman.
The Cards moved ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the third on an RBI-double, but a two-out, two-run rally in the top of the fourth for Pitt put the Panthers on top 3-2.
Pitt began the inning with two away following a strikeout and fly out, but back-to-back singles by Manuel and Ortega put runners in scoring position for the Panthers. A free pass issued to freshman pinch hitter Alexee Haynes juiced the bases for Hershman who found the right field fence with a shot down the line to score Manuel and Ortega.
Knight entered the game for Harris at the start of the fourth. Louisville tied the game in the bottom half of this inning on a throwing and fielding error by Pitt and led 5-3 following five complete innings after adding two runs on three hits.
Two bases loaded walks and a fielding error by Louisville put Pitt back out in front 6-5 in the top half of the sixth. A Manuel double, Ortega walk and Hershman single juiced the bases for Panthers, setting up the first free run as pinch hitter Gabrielle Fredericks walked to first. Junior McKayla Taylor also walked, scoring, pinch runner Marissa DeMatteo. Pitt went ahead on a fielding error by the Cards on a ball hit by sophomore Giorgiana Zeremenko, allowing Hershman to cross the plate.
The game became tied once again as the Cards loaded the bases in the sixth and scored on a failed pickoff attempt, as Ortega overthrew third trying to snag the runner for the final out.
Pitt had bases loaded in the top of the seventh but was unable to capitalize.
In the bottom of the seventh, a triple with one away got things going for Louisville. The Panthers intentionally walked the next two batters that sat in the three and four holes to load the bases to make it a force out all the way around. Pitt saw a spark from Knight as she struck out the next batter but an RBI-single would end things.
The Panthers continue play at Louisville Saturday, March 18 at 1 p.m.
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