March 10, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Villanova (10-3) raced out to a 6-0 lead after three innings and senior Caitlyn Delahaba and sophomore Kaity Sitzman combined for a shutout as the Wildcats defeated Wagner (0-8) 7-0 for their eighth straight win at the USF Under Armour Invitational. Delahaba (6-2) won her fifth straight start and freshman second baseman Briana Fujii led the way for the Wildcats offense with three RBIs.
Delahaba worked a fairly quick first inning. After allowing a one-out double, she induced back-to-back fly outs to senior center fielder Jamie O'Hara to get Villanova in the dugout where they would get to work offensively.
O'Hara extended her season-long hit streak to thirteen games with a single up the middle and moved to second base on a wild pitch. After a single by junior left fielder Taylor Olafson to shortstop, O'Hara and Olafson executed a perfect double steal to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Senior third baseman Kristi Burlin then walked to load the bases for junior first baseman Valerie Ortega, the team's hottest hitter. Ortega lined a ball to centerfield that the fielder made an error on and all runners moved up a base with O'Hara scoring for a 1-0 Villanova lead. Senior designated player Manning then laid down a perfect squeeze bunt with the bases loaded to score Olafson and advance both runners as the Wildcats led 2-0. Villanova's most productive hitter, Briana Fujii, stepped into the box with two runners in scoring position and pounded a single up the middle that scored Burlin and Ortega to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead after just one inning of play.
Delahaba got into a little bit of trouble in the top of the second with a one-out double followed by a walk, but she escaped any trouble with her first of four strikeouts on the day. Sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe reach with a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, but Villanova was unable to produce any runs from the base knock.
In the top of the third, Delahaba allowed a lead-off single, but a fielder's choice erased her for the first out of the inning. Junior catcher Amanda Marquez then threw the runner on first out trying to steal second base for the second out and a groundout to Lowe finished off the frame with Villanova still ahead by four runs.
The Wildcats added some insurance in the third to extend their lead to 6-0. Ortega singled through the right side followed by a Manning double to put two runners in scoring position for Fujii again. Fujii got the job done by hitting a groundball to first base that scored Ortega as Villanova was up 5-0. Freshman right fielder Beth Smetana then hit a groundball to the second baseman which she booted that allowed sophomore pinch runner Danielle Lewandowski to score to put Villanova in front 6-0 going to the fourth.
In the fourth, Delahaba gave up a single followed by a double to start the inning, but struck out the side to keep the Seahawks off the scoreboard. The four innings of work was all Villanova needed from Delahaba. She allowed five hits while striking out four and walking two.
Villanova got its final run of the day in the bottom of the fourth when Olafson walked and stole second for her third swiped bag of the day with one out. She advanced to third on a fly out by Burlin and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Ortega for the 7-0 Villanova advantage.
Sophomore Kaity Sitzman came on in relief in the fifth and made quick work of Wagner with a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout. In the bottom of the fifth, Lowe had her second hit of the day with two outs that moved freshman Randi Josett into scoring position after she walked, but a fielder's choice ended the rally.
Sitzman worked through the final two frames allowing just a one-out single in the sixth as Villanova cruised to a 7-0 victory, their eighth straight.
Sitzman worked three scoreless innings of relief, surrendering just one hit while striking out one.
Villanova battles Toledo at 11:30 looking to extend their streak to nine games.
NOTES: The 8-game winning streak is the longest for Villanova since they won nine straight to end the 2010 regular season...Fujii leads the team in RBIs with 13...The shutout is the Wildcats third in their past four games...Villanova has stolen 23 bases in only 26 attempts in 13 games this year...Jamie O'Hara leads the team in average with a .447 mark...Smetana (.438) and Ortega (.410) are also over .400.