March 28, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - For the second straight game, Villanova (11-15, 0-6 BIG EAST) and South Florida (27-11, 5-1 BIG EAST) had a low-scoring, extra inning pitcher's duel and again the Bulls came out on top 3-0 to sweep the three-game series. A three-run home run by Kourtney Salvarola in the top of the ninth was the only scoring in the second game. Starting pitcher Kaity Sitzman threw seven shutout innings surrendering just three hits while striking out four and walking one. For Villanova, shortstop Ali Lowe had three hits.
Villanova got a two-out single from designated player Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) in the first and another two-out single from third baseman Briana Fujii (San Jose, Calif.) in the second, but neither advanced any further as USF pitcher Sam Greiner retired the next hitter each time.
Sitzman (Tucson, Ariz.) got off to a great start, surrendering a second inning walk as her only base runner early on.
For the third inning in a row, the Wildcats had a two-out single, this one from Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.), but again she was stranded after Greiner retired the next hitter.
Sitzman didn't allow her first hit until two outs in the top of the fourth when Kenshyra Jackson hit a single, but a groundout ended the inning with the game still deadlocked at 0-0.
Villanova got their first runner into scoring position in the last of the fourth when first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) laced a lead-off double down the left field line. A groundout moved Ortega to third base, but she was stranded after relief pitcher Lindsey Richardson got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.
The Wildcats threatened again with two outs in the fifth when Lowe had her second hit of the day with a triple to the right field wall, but Smetana went down on strikes as the game remained scoreless.
Sitzman continued to throw well as she set down the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings as she had retired seven in a row at that point, having allowed just one hit. Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) replaced her in the seventh after a lead-off single and Poppe escaped unscathed.
For the fifth time in seven innings, Villanova got a two-out single, this time from Shea Palmer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) before catcher Amanda Marquez (Miami, Fla.) was hit by a pitch and Lowe walked to load the bases. Smetana had a chance to win the game off first-game winner Sara Nevins, but she grounded into a fielder's choice to go to extra innings for the second straight game.
In the eighth after Poppe kept the Bulls scoreless, the Wildcats loaded the bases again on the strength of a single by Ortega and two walks, but pinch hitter Carly Danek popped out to send the game to the ninth with the score still tied 0-0.
In the ninth, Salvarola hit the decisive home run off Poppe (11-9) to deal her the second loss of the day. Sitzman came on to retire the next three hitters.
Villanova will take the weekend off for Easter before hosting La Salle on Monday at 1 p.m. for a doubleheader.