May 5, 2013
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The University of Pittsburgh softball team (19-29, 8-14) defeated Rutgers University (30-26, 8-14) in the Panthers’ regular-season finale by the score of 6-3 on Sunday afternoon at the RU Softball Complex.
Kathryn Duran was 3-for-3 with three RBI, while Tori Nirschl was 3-for-5 with two RBI. Starting pitcher Alexa Larkin (9-12, 4.22 ERA) went four innings in the victory and allowed three hits and three runs, two of which were earned. Savannah King pitched the final three innings in relief and picked up her third save of the season and did not allow a hit.
After a scoreless first inning, the Panthers crossed the plate four time on three hits in the second to take a 4-0 lead. Kaila Balatgek started the rally with a one-out walk, which was followed by back-to-back hits from Ashlee Sills and Carly Thea to load the bases.
Duran then worked a walk to give Pitt a 1-0 lead and it chased Rutgers’ starting pitcher Dresden Maddox out of the game. Nirschl was next to the plate and her single down the right field line off relief pitcher Alyssa Landrith scored Sills and Thea. Jordan Fannin would then register an RBI groundout for the fourth run of the inning.
Rutgers cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the second inning when Ashley Alden hit an opposite field, two-run homer. Alden’s fourth round-tripper of the year also scored Jennifer Harabedian who led off the inning with a walk.
The Scarlet Knights closed the gap to 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning with an RBI single by Melanie Slowinski. It could have been more as Rutgers had two runners on when Kaci Madden hit a shot to left field, but Tori Nirschl made a fantastic diving catch to end the inning and preserve the lead.
The Panthers added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning to gain a 6-3 lead. King drew a one out walk, and Balatgek followed that with a single through the middle. Two batters later, Thea reached on a fielding error, and that loaded the bases for Duran. The freshman catcher put the ball in play and beat the throw to first, driving in two runs as King and Balatgek scored.
The Scarlet Knights would have their leadoff batter on in the seventh, but King got a strikeout, a line out and groundout to end the game.
The Panthers took 2-of-3 from the Scarlet Knights and now four teams in conference finished with eight wins. Three of those teams, including Pitt, are 8-14, but Seton Hall advances to the Big East Tournament at 8-13 because they played one less game and have a higher winning percentage.