March 17, 2013
NEWARK, Del. - In the final game of the Delaware Spring Invitational something had to give between two teams riding hot streaks. Thanks to an 11-hit performance offensively and a five-hitter on the mound Villanova (11-8) scored a 4-2 victory over tournament host Delaware (17-4) in its second game of the day at the UD Softball Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Both teams won three of the four games they played this weekend but the win by the Wildcats snapped an eight-game Blue Hens winning streak.
Senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) was 3-for-4 and had a run-scoring single in the fifth inning, while freshman center fielder Shea Palmer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) had two hits and drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the top of the fourth inning. Eight different players had hits for Villanova.
On the mound freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) pitched a five-hitter and won her 11th game of the season. Poppe (11-3, 1.39 ERA) struck out eight and did not allow an extra-base hit in her eighth complete game of the season. She is limiting opposing batters to a .199 average against her this season.
In their first game of the day the Wildcats scored in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Norfolk State, 7-6, in walk-off fashion. Villanova was the visiting team against Delaware and scored in the top of the first inning to grab an early 1-0 lead.
Junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) singled with one out in the top of the first inning, moved to second on a two-out single by Ortega and scored when a throwing error was committed by the Blue Hens after Ortega's hit.
Poppe protected the 1-0 lead until the bottom of the third inning, when a two-out double by Lara Andrews and a single by Michelle McKinnon tied the game. McKinnon moved up to second on a fielding error one batter later but a line drive by Gina Knutson was caught by senior second baseman Taylor Olafson (Jacksonville, Fla.) to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning the Wildcats got the run right back and led for good from there on. Senior right fielder Julie Smith (Dana Point, Calif.), who drove in the game-winning run against Norfolk State, singled with one out and sophomore pinch runner Elise Samoy Alvarado (Tucson, Ariz.) scored from second on Palmer's double, which was the only extra-base hit of the game for either team.
Lowe walked to open the top of the fifth inning, sophomore designated hitter Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) singled and Villanova executed a successful double steal to put pressure on the Delaware defense. A throwing error on the double steal allowed Lowe to score and Ortega followed with an RBI single to give the Wildcats another insurance run.
Starting pitcher Taylor Curran (3-2, 2.65 ERA) started and went four-plus innings for the Blue Hens, allowing six hits and all four runs (two earned) while walk one and striking out one. McKinnon had two hits and drove in both Delaware runs in the game.
Villanova returns to action on Tuesday afternoon when it plays a doubleheader at Saint Joseph's. The first game of the doubleheader begins at 3 p.m.