Villanova Holds Off Providence to Clinch Victory
Feb. 18, 2012
MIAMI, Fla. - Villanova (2-1) scored seven runs in the first two innings to build a 7-0 lead over BIG EAST opponent Providence (0-4), but Providence fought back with five unanswered runs to make the game close in the final innings, however the Wildcats held off the charge for a 7-5 victory. After collecting 15 hits over two games in yesterday's doubleheader, Villanova picked up 10 more in the first game of the day at the FIU Feisberg Memorial in Miami. The game came against a conference foe, but does not count toward BIG EAST play because the two teams will meet for a three-game series at the end of March at Villanova.
Senior centerfielder Jamie O'Hara, junior first baseman Valerie Ortega, and sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe all picked up two hits in the win, while senior pitcher Caitlyn Delahaba got back on track in the circle by picking up the victory.
Delahaba got the day started off well for the Wildcats by striking out the first hitter she faced and retiring the Friars in order in the top of the first. The Wildcats wasted no time getting to work with the bats. Seven consecutive hitters reached base in the bottom of the first en route to a four fun frame that saw the exit of Providence's starting picther.
O'Hara picked up her first hit of the day with a single up the middle followed by Ortega's fourth consecutive hit with a single to left field. Senior Molly Manning then stepped to the plate and delivered an RBI single through the right side to bring O'Hara home for a 1-0 lead. With runners at the corners and one out, Villanova used the double steal to perfection to bring home Ortega and put the Wildcats ahead 2-0 with a runner still in scoring position. Freshman Briana Fujii then walked which was followed by fellow freshman Beth Smetana's single to load the bases with one out. Back-to-back RBI walks by junior Taylor Olafson and Lowe gave Villanova a 4-0 advantage after just one inning of play.
Delahaba used the lead to pitch around back-to-back singles to start the inning as she struck out the side, which kept the momentum on the Wildcats side and Villanova took advantage of some sloppy Friar defense.
For the second inning in a row O'Hara started the rally with her second hit of the day, but she was gunned down trying to steal second base for the first out of the inning. Ortega then reached for the fifth consecutive time, this time by a fielding error and moved to second after Manning was hit by a pitch. Ortega and Manning again pulled off an effective double steal to put two runners in scoring position with just one out Following a strikeout, Smetana drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Freshman pinch hitter Randi Josett then hit a hard groundball to second baseman Kaitlyn Duval, which she was unable to handle and Ortega scored to extend Villanova's lead to 5-0. Back-to-back RBI infield singles by Lowe and senior Tessa Braga built the Wildcat lead to a comfortable 7-0 after just two innings of play.
Each team went scoreless in the third and Providence finally jumped on the scoreboard in the fourth. Sophomore Kaity Sitzman came in for some relief work in the fourth and struggled to find her groove. She hit the first batter she faced, and the next two hitters struck a single and a triple to make it 7-2. However, Delahaba picked up her teammate by coming in and stranding the runner at third base with the help of two strikeouts.
In the Villanova half of the fourth, they had a chance to add some insurance runs. Senior Shannon O'Brien hit a double down the left field line in her first at bat of the season and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Josett. Lowe then stepped in and laid down a bunt that she was able to advance to second on because Providence did not want the run to score. However, the next two hitters grounded out to end the threat as Villanova still led 7-2.
In the top of the fifth, an error followed by a double and single plated two more runs for Providence as Villanova's lead was cut to 7-4, but again Delahaba masterfully worked through the jam by retiring the next three hitters in order.
Villanova was unable to muster any more offense in the fifth and sixth innings, but Providence again cut into the lead in their half of the fifth. Providence plated a run on an RBI single by centerfielder Michelle Huber to make the score 7-5, but freshman Kera Pezzuti gunned down Huber trying to steal second base to help end the threat.
Nursing a two run lead heading into the seventh, the Wildcats shut the door on Providence by sending them down in order to secure a 7-5 win and their second victory in a row.
Delahaba pitched seven innings, surrendering seven hits, two earned runs, walking one, and striking out nine as she continues to pile up the punch outs.
Ortega continues to pace the offense as she continues to swing a hot bat (6-11). In fact the Wildcats have five players hitting over .400 at the moment. Ortega (.545), Braga (.500), Lowe (.444), Manning (.429), and Smetana (.400).
Villanova will look to build their winning streak to three games tonight against host FIU at 7 p.m.