March 3, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Freshman Briana Fujii crushed a 3rd inning grand slam that blew the game open to 7-0 and Villanova (6-3) rode the big hit to an 8-0 win, their fourth straight, over South Dakota State (2-5) at the USF Under Armour Invitational. Villanova continued the offensive barrage with 13 hits with Fujii and senior Kristi Burlin collecting three hits a piece. Senior Molly Manning worked (3-1) four shutout innings on the mound for the victory.
Villanova again got off to a quick start with hits and some defensive mistakes by the Jackrabbits. Senior Tessa Braga continued her impressive early season run with a bunt single and she advanced to second on a poor throw by the third baseman. Burlin then delivered her first of three hits on the day with a single up the middle that advanced Braga to third and allowed Burlin to move to second on the throw home. Following a strikeout, Molly Manning helped herself with a hard groundball to third base and the third baseman threw the throw away at first which allowed Braga and Burlin to score for a 2-0 Villanova lead. Manning made quick work of South Dakota State in their half of the first by effectively pitching to contact and getting three outs through the air.
In the second, Fujii and junior right fielder Julie Smith hit back-to-back singles to put Villanova in great shape to add to their lead, but South Dakota State's starting pitcher got a pop out and consecutive strikeouts to quiet the Wildcats. Manning ensured that Villanova would not lose the momentum however as she allowed just a one-out single en route to another shut out frame.
In the third, Villanova duplicated their 5th inning performance from the previous game against Hampton by batting around. Burlin worked a walk and junior first baseman Valerie Ortega followed with a single. Manning then helped herself again with a well-placed sacrifice bunt and the third baseman threw the ball away at first, allowing Burlin to score, and both Ortega and Manning to move into scoring position. Amanada Marquez followed with a hard-earned 11-pitch at bat that resulted in a walk, loading the bases for Fujii. Fujii took the pitch and drove it deep over the left field fence for a 7-0 Villanova lead. It was Fujii's first career home run, and third straight at bat with a hit dating back to the previous game. She is now the third player on the roster to register a grand slam as Manning (at Louisville) and Burlin (vs. Notre Dame) both accopmlished the feat last season. Before the inning was over, senior center fielder Jamie O'Hara extended her hitting streak with a single.
Manning pitched a pair of shutdown innings for the Wildcats in the third and fourth innings to keep Villanova in front at 7-0. Manning finished the day with four innings pitched, no runs, two hits, one walk, and two strikeouts.
In the fifth, Fujii led off the inning with a hit for her fourth hit in four consecutive at bats. In those four at bats she was 4-4 with two singles, a double, a grand slam, 4 RBIs, and two runs scored. The Villanova threat ended when O'Hara flew out.
In the bottom of the fifth, freshman Ali Angelbello came on in her relief for her second career appearance. She allowed a single in the fifth before ending the inning with a strikeout.
In the sixth, Villanova added the one more run it needed to end the game early. Burlin singled before sophomore Danielle Lewandowski walked. Manning then followed with another single to load the bases with nobody out. Freshman Randi Josett then singled into left field to bring home Burlin and the Wildcats had an 8-0 lead.
Angelbello finished a perfect relief effort with a 1-2-3 sixth and the game ended after six innings with Villanova on top 8-0.
Villanova has won four games in a row and head coach Maria DiBernardi is just three wins from the 700 plateau.
Villanova will finish the first weekend of the USF Under Armour Invitational tomorrow with a noon game against Florida Gulf Coast as Villanova looks to cap a perfect 5-0 weekend.