Late Rally Sparks Wildcats to 6-3 Win Over Hartford
March 15, 2013
NEWARK, Del. - Senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) drove in the tying runs and scored the eventual winning run during a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning and Villanova (9-7) came from behind for a 6-3 win over Hartford (5-10) at the Delaware Softball Stadium on Friday afternoon. In their first of four games at the Delaware Spring Invitational this weekend the Wildcats registered their third last at-bat win of the season.
Ortega hit a two-run triple to the gap in right-center field with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the score at 3-3, the first time Villanova had drawn even after trailing since the top of the first inning. Ortega scored on a fielding error on the next play after her triple to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead, while another error later in the inning and an RBI single by junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) capped the big rally. Villanova batted around in the bottom of the sixth and had four of their seven hits in the game during the rally.
Lwoe had two hits in the game and sophomore designated hitter Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) went 2-for-2 with a run scored, RBI and a walk. Six different players each scored a run for the Wildcats, who bookended their scoring in the game with a run in the bottom of the first inning followed by the five-run sixth inning.
Freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief to earn her ninth win of the season. She entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the third inning, stranded two runners on base and went the rest of the way while allowing a run on three hits. Poppe (9-3, 1.31 ERA) walked four and struck out four. Two of her four strikeouts came in the bottom of the seventh inning, when she worked around a leadoff double to finish off the victory.
A two-run single by Jackie Kelly with two outs in the top of the first inning enabled the Hawks to get off to a fast start. Hartford led 2-0 before taking the field for the first time and added a run in the fifth inning to go ahead 3-1 before Villanova later turned the tables.
Amber Andrews and Jenice Aloyo led off the game with singles for the Hawks and the runners moved up to second and third on a groundout for the first out. A line drive to short was the second out of the inning but Kelly drove a pitch to right field to drive in both runs. She was thrown at second trying to stretch the hit into a double.
In the bottom of the first inning freshman center fielder Shea Palmer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) drew a leadoff walk and scored with two outs when Smetana doubled to right-center field for her first hit of the game. She also doubled in the third inning. Smetana leads the Wildcats this season with five doubles, three home runs and a .630 slugging percentage.
Kate Wacyk doubled against Poppe with nobody out in the top of the fifth inning to drive in the third Hartford run of the game but from that point on Poppe retired nine of the last 12 batters she faced.
Villanova junior Kaity Sitzman (Tucson, Ariz.) started on the mound and allowed five hits and two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. She struck out one and did not walk a batter in her fifth start of the season.
Tomorrow morning the Wildcats return to action against St. Francis (Pa.) in their only game of the day. Saturday's game is set for 11:15 a.m.
NOTES: Villanova scored the decisive runs in the last at-bat of consecutive wins over St. Bonaventure and Minnesota during the first weekend of the season ... Senior catcher Amanda Marquez (Miami, Fla.) went 1-for-3 and has reached base safely in all 14 of her starts this season.