May 1, 2013
PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh softball team (17-28, 6-13) split a pair of Wednesday afternoon games with Providence College (22-25-1, 8-11) in the 2013 home finale at Vartabedian Field.
A late rally came up short in game one as the Panthers lost the opening contest by the score of 6-5, while a four-run first inning of game two propelled Pitt past the Friars, 4-2.
Game One: Providence 6, Pitt 5
Trailing 6-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh inning, Pitt scored four runs to cut the deficit to one, but the rally would come to a halt as Providence hung on for the victory.
Providence opened the scoring in the top of the second inning with a one-out home run to left field by third baseman Shanelle Harrell. The Panthers though, tied it up in the bottom of the inning when Tori Nirschl was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, allowing Carly Thea to trot home and even the game at 1-1.
With the game still tied, PC broke the contest open with five runs on five hits in the top of the sixth inning. A bases loaded walk gave the Friars a 2-1 lead, and then a two RBI single by left fielder Marie Flego brought the score to 4-1. Providence would add an RBI groundout and an RBI single to make the score 6-1.
Down to their final three outs and trailing by five runs, the Panthers put together a furious rally. Ashlee Sills led off the inning with a walk, and then two batters later Jordan Fannin laced a single, putting two on with one out.
Holly Stevens, Carissa Throckmorton and Thea then recorded back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles which cut the lead to 6-5. Stevens’ double scored two runs, while Throckmorton and Thea’s doubles tallied one RBI. Kaila Balatgek continued the one out rally with a single through the right side which moved Thea to third, but PC pitcher Corinne Clauss got the final two Pitt batters to pop out and groundout, which ended the game.
Game Two: Pitt 4, Providence 2
The Panthers scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and Alexa Larkin rung up nine Providence batters to help Pitt defeat the Friars 4-2 in game two of the double-dip.
Tori Nirschl led off the bottom of the first inning by striking out, but would reach base on a passed ball, and then made it to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jordan Fannin. Two batters later, Carissa Throckmorton drove Nirschl home with a single to center field. Carly Thea followed that up with her second double of the afternoon which scored Throckmorton. Kaila Balatgek was next to the plate and she launched a 2-2 offering from Emily O’Keefe over the left center field fence for a 4-0 lead.
That would be plenty of run support for Larkin (8-12, 4.35 ERA), who allowed just three hits on the afternoon. Providence scored its only runs of the game in the sixth inning on a two-run homer by right fielder Jessie Bryant. Other than that, Providence only had four base runners for the game.
Thea was 3-for-5 on the afternoon with two doubles, two RBI, and scored twice, while Nirschl was 3-for-6 with a run scored and an RBI.
The Panthers travel to Rutgers this weekend to end the regular-season. Pitt will most likely need to sweep the Scarlet Knights and receive help from teams above them in the standings to make the Big East Tournament. Rutgers is holding on to the eighth and final tournament berth right now, but has a conference record of 7-12. Spots 5-8 are still up for grabs and there are eight teams in contention for them. Saturday is doubleheader against Rutgers and Sunday is the series finale. First pitch for both days is at 12 p.m.