March 28, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova (11-14, 0-5 BIG EAST) and South Florida (26-11, 4-1 BIG EAST) battled in a pitchers' duel for 11 innings before the Bulls got an unearned run in the top of the 11th to lift them to a 1-0 victory. Kate Poppe pitched all 11 innings for the Wildcats and took the tough loss despite not yielding an earned run.
Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) and USF pitchers Lindsey Richardson and Sara Nevins (11-8) both pitched extremely well in the low-scoring first game after yesterday's 8-2 South Florida win. Poppe (11-8) went the distance giving up one unearned run on seven hits while striking out nine and walking four. Richardson responded with 5 2/3 shutout innings to go with Nevins' 6 1/3 shutout frames.
Poppe started the game by retiring the first six hitters she faced, three of them by strikeout before allowing the first hit in the top of the third to lead off the inning. She escaped any trouble by striking out two more to give her five punchouts through three innings of play.
Poppe encountered a threat in the fifth when she faced Kourtney Salvarola, who hit two home runs yesterday off the freshman pitcher, with two runners on and two outs. This time Poppe induced a fielder's choice to third baseman Briana Fujii (San Jose, Calif.) to end the threat with the game still scoreless.
After escaping the threat, Fujii got the first hit of the day for the Wildcats in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out single to left-center field, but Richardson retired the next two hitters to keep Villanova off the scoreboard.
The Bulls got their first runner to third base in the top of the sixth when they had runners on the corners with one out. Poppe then got a pop out to Fujii and a fly out to centerfielder Shea Palmer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) to avert another USF threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sara Nevins came on in relief of Richardson with two outs and a runner on to face first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) and she got her on strikes to end the inning.
Both teams went scoreless in the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
The Wildcats had their best chance of the day in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and two outs with Ortega at the plate. She hit a hard groundball to the left side, but Salvarola made a nice play in the hole to force out the runner at second to send the game scoreless to the ninth inning.
After both sides went down in order in the ninth, the Bulls loaded the bases with two outs in the tenth, but Poppe again eluded trouble and kept USF off the scoreboard with a pop out to end the threat.
The Bulls got their run in the top of the eleventh on a sacrifice fly by Dani Wayt with one out.