April 1, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) hit a three-run home run and freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) allowed just one hit over six scoreless inning as Villanova (12-15) defeated La Salle (10-12), 4-0, in the first game of a doubleheader at the Villanova Softball Complex on Monday afternoon. Later in the day the Explorers won the second game by a 5-3 count.
Ortega is tied for the team lead with nine extra-base hits this season but the three-run home run she blasted well over the right field fence in the bottom of the third inning was her first long ball of the season. It came with one out in an inning where the Wildcats showed plenty of power.
Junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) batted with one out in the bottom of the third and hit a ball that one-hopped the fence in left-center field. Lowe raced around the bases for a triple and sophomore designated player Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) walked before Ortega hit the first offering she saw from Alyssa Bitsimis (0-2, 10.50 ERA) for a three-run homer.
The offense was more than enough support for Poppe (12-9, 2.13 ERA), allowed a one-out single to Kristin Travers in the top of the second inning and little else. She walked four and struck out eight, including striking out the side in the fourth inning right after Villanova had taken the lead. Poppe recorded her second straight start in which she did not allow an earned run and also had at least eight strikeouts for the eighth time in 17 starts this season.
In the top of the second inning Travers fought off a 1-2 pitch and hit a clean single that just stayed inside the third base bag on its way down the left field line. Poppe quickly used a strikeout and a groundout to second to end the inning however, and was never in any serious trouble the rest of the way. She had been in a potential jam after walking consecutive batters with one out in the first inning but responded by striking out two straight batters to end the inning. Sophomore Ali Angelbello (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh to close out the game.
Freshman left fielder Sierra McConnell (Katy, Texas) went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats, who had nine hits total and also drew three walks. A total of 10 different players reached base safely via a hit or a walk for Villanova, which added its final run in the bottom of the sixth inning when freshman third baseman Stephanie Butler (Barnegat, N.J.) stole home on a successful double steal with senior second baseman Taylor Olafson (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Starting pitcher Alicia Aughton pitched two scoreless innings for the Explorers before turning the game over to Bitsimis, who allowed four earned runs on seven hits and two walks over the final four innings of the game.