March 17, 2013
NEWARK, Del. - Senior pinch hitter Julie Smith (Dana Point, Calif.) singled with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Villanova (10-8) a walk-off win over Norfolk State (7-15) in the Delaware Spring Invitational on Sunday afternoon. An early lead and last at-bat heroics made the difference for the Wildcats, who also defeated tournament host Delaware by a 4-2 score later in the day.
Villanova allowed two runs to the Spartans in both the top of the first and the top of the seventh innings, but each time the Wildcats responded in a big way. Three hits and three errors in the bottom of the first inning led to five Villanova runs and an early 5-2 lead. That lead stayed intact until the seventh, when Norfolk State scored twice to tie the game at 6-6.
Freshman center fielder Shea Palmer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the seventh and the Wildcats eventually loaded the bases with nobody out when consecutive sacrifice bunts were misplayed by the Spartans infield. Freshman left fielder Sierra McConnell (Katy, Texas) and senior second baseman Taylor Olafson (Jacksonville, Fla.) each laid down bunts and both were safe themselves due to the two fielding errors. Smith lined a ball to center field to drive in the winning run in the high-scoring affair.
Olafson and senior catcher Amanda Marquez (Miami, Fla.) each had two hits and a run batted in for Villanova, which had eight hits in the game. Palmer singled, walked and scored two runs in the win.
In the bottom of the first inning Marquez singled, junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) walked and sophomore designated hitter Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) beat out an infield hit to load the bases with nobody out. Senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) reached on an error and three batters later McConnell did the same, with those two miscues allowing three runs to score. Norfolk State committed six errors and the Wildcats had three on an extremely cold and windy afternoon.
Freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) was the last of three Villanova pitchers and won her 10th game of the season. She was on the mound when the two runs scored in the top of the seventh inning but also induced Haley Ward into an inning ending pop up with the bases loaded in a tie game. Poppe (10-3, 1.33 ERA) had entered the game with a runner at first and one out with the Wildcats leading 6-4.
Kathy Cortez and Whitney Williams singled home runs before the inning came to a close. Cleanup hitter Melina Valles led the Spartans with a 3-for-3 day at the plate and Marjorie Pettitt drove in two runs.
Norfolk State pitcher Liz Riley (2-6, 5.20 ERA) went the distance and allowed eight hits and seven runs (three earned) in six-plus innings of work. She walked five and struck out one.