March 28, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova (23-6) got a great start from sophomore pitcher Kaity Sitzman who threw five shutout innings and the Wildcats held on to a 4-1 win over Lafayette (4-12) to sweep the doubleheader over the Leopards. The win is Villanova's sixth in a row as the team heads into BIG EAST play this weekend. Villanova had just three hits, but capitalized on Lafayette mistakes with good baserunning and execution.
Sitzman started very well as she retired the Leopards 1-2-3 on the strength of two strikeouts as she looked to find her groove in her second start of the season. Villanova was looking to get some good swings off of Lafayette pitcher Alex Campanaro, but they were unable to produce anything in the first inning as both pitchers looked to settle in.
Sitzman kept going in the second as she started the game retiring the first six hitters. She relied on her defense in the inning as junior second baseman Taylor Olafson made a nice running play on a hump-back line drive and senior third baseman Kristi Burlin snared a hard-hit groundball to keep the Leopards off the base paths. Villanova used some poor Leopard defense to grab the lead in the bottom of the second. Freshman right fielder Beth Smetana walked to lead off the inning, but was forced out on a fielder's choice by Burlin. Olafson then laid down a great sacrifice bunt that was not handled at first base by Madeline Allen as the Wildcats had two runners on with one out. Sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe then stayed red-hot with a single to left-center field to load the bases. Freshman left fielder Elise Samoy Alvarado then grounded a ball to second base that Jordan Parsons threw home to force out Burlin who was trying to score. With two outs, junior catcher Amanda Marquez hit a hard groundball to third base that Lauren Murphy was unable to field which allowed Olafson to score to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead through two innings.
Now working with the lead, Sitzman retired the next two hitters to make it eight in a row before Kristen Berger singled down the left field line for the first Leopard runner of the game. After Berger stole second base, Sitzman cleanly fielder a come backer to end the inning with Villanova in the lead. Campanaro responded with a good inning herself by retiring the Wildcats in order.
The Villanova defense stepped up again in the top of the fourth as Sitzman continued to mow down Lafayette. Burlin and Olafson fielded consecutive groundballs then Lowe ranged back nicely on a shallow pop up to run down the third out of the inning as Lafayette only had the one hitter reach through four innings. Villanova had Olafson reach on a wild pitch strikeout with one out and she proceeded to steal second and third base. With two outs, Alvarado grounded a ball back to the mound that Campanaro booted which allowed Olafson to score to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead through four innings of play.
Sitzman continued to cruise in the fifth as she retired the first two hitters on pop outs before allowing her second single of the day. Burlin ranged over to her left on a groundball and threw across to Ortega to end the inning as Sitzman had now gone five shutout innings. In the Wildcat half of the fifth, Braga walked to start the frame and Manning was hit by a pitch with one out to put two runners on for freshman right fielder Beth Smetana. Smetana came through for Villanova again with her 17th RBI of the year on a double off the center field wall that scored Braga to put the Wildcats up 3-0. Burlin then lofted a fly ball into foul territory in right that Kelly Lallis caught, but it was deep enough to score sophomore pinch runner Danielle Lewandowski for a four-run lead through five innings.
After getting the four-run lead, Sitzman's day was done. The sophomore pitched five very solid innings, surrendering just two hits while collecting three strikeouts for her second win of the season.
Freshman reliever Ali Angelbello came on for the second straight game in the sixth inning looking to close out the shutout victory for Wildcats. She allowed a one-out double after striking out the first hitter, but worked out of any trouble with a groundout to second and a fly out to center.
After the Wildcats went down in order in the sixth, Lafayette threatened with a rally in the seventh. A lead-off walk followed by a double off the bat of Jordan Parsons put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. Following a pop out to Olafson at second base, Angelbello uncorked a wild pitch that gave the Leopards their first run of the day as they had cut into the lead a 4-1. Angelbello walked the next hitter, but got a big strikeout with the tying run at the plate for the second out. Angelbello induced a pop out off the bat of Kristen Berger to Olafson to finish up the sweep for Villanova.
The Wildcats will be in action again this Saturday with their BIG EAST opener against Providence with two games on Saturday beginning at noon with the series finale coming on Sunday at noon.
NOTES: Villanova pitchers combined to give up just one run in fourteen innings on the mound in the sweep over Lafayette...This six game winning streak is the teams third of at least that length this season with their longest being nine games...Ali Lowe set a new personal high with 8 RBIs in a season...Tayhlor Olafson set a new personal single season high with 9 runs scored...Ali Lowe had four straight at bats with singles in today's doubleheader...The shutout is the team's ninth already and their first consecutive shutouts.