March 19, 2013
MERION STATION, Pa. - For the second straight game Villanova (11-9) reached double digits in the hit column but a five-run bottom of the third inning was the turning point of the game in an 8-5 loss to Saint Joseph's (13-3-1) at the SJU Softball Complex on Tuesday afternoon. Freshman left fielder Sierra McConnell (Katy, Texas) had two hits and drove in runs in all three of the innings in which the Wildcats scored.
Three straight run-scoring singles in the top of the third inning helped Villanova overcome an early 2-0 deficit and go in front by a 4-2 margin. In the bottom half of the inning however, the Hawks scored five runs and retook the lead for good when Rochelle Christman hit a two-out, three-run home run. Saint Joseph's led 7-4 after three innings and each team managed only one additional run the rest of the way.
McConnell singled, doubled and was one of three Wildcats who had multi-hit games. Sophomore third baseman Briana Fujii (San Jose, Calif.) had two hits and a run batted in, while senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Villanova trailed 2-1 going to the top of the third inning but quickly loaded the bases with one out on singles by junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Ortega, with sophomore right fielder Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) reaching on an error in between those two hits. Fujii singled to right field with the bases loaded to tie the game at 2-2 and both senior designated hitter Julie Smith (Dana Point, Calif.) and McConnell followed with singles to complete the three-run rally.
In the bottom of the third inning Sarah Yoos doubled home a run and Morgan Earling hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4 ahead of Christman's three-run double to left-center field. Christman and Monica Aguilar each drove in three runs for the Hawks, who had eight hits but also drew five walks on the day.
Saint Joseph's took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Aguilar homered to left field with two outs. She drove in Dana Parks, who had singled to start the frame, and the Hawks sent six batters to the plate before Wildcats freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) struck out Brandi Harkness to end the inning.
Poppe (11-4, 1.88 ERA) was charged with seven earned runs in five innings of work. She allowed five hits and five walks while striking out four.
Villanova opens BIG EAST play this weekend with a three-game series at Georgetown. The series begins with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at Noon.
NOTES: Ortega extended her current hitting streak to six games, the longest on the team so far this season ... She is second on the team with a .338 batting average through 20 games ... Poppe's strikeout of Harkness to end the bottom of the fourth inning was her 100th strikeout of the season ... She has 101 strikeouts in 85 2/3 innings for the year.