April 10, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Freshman Kate Poppe scattered three hits over seven shutout innings to help the Villanova Wildcats (14-20 overall, 2-9 BIG EAST) post a 3-0 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (22-15 overall, 6-5 BIG EAST) to earn a split of a doubleheader today here at the VU Softball Complex.
VU dropped an 8-2 decision to the Scarlet Knights in the first half of the doubleheader.
Loren Williams led off the second game with an infield single for Rutgers that was followed by a walk to Chandler Howard. This set up an early scoring opportunity for the Scarlet Knights. But Poppe got Jackie Bates - who had homered in the first game - to line out to second baseman Stephanie Butler. Butler's throw then beat Howard back to the first base bag for a timely double play. Poppe then induced cleanup hitter Alexis Durando to ground out to Butler and she had escaped the first frame unscathed.
Over the next four innings Poppe settled into a comfortable rhythm, allowing no hits and only one walk.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats were kept off the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning when they broke through with three runs.
The rally began when Butler opened the inning with a single. Pinch runner Taylor Olafson was advanced to third by a single into left centerfield off the bat of freshman Shea Palmer. Palmer moved up to second base on the throw to third and the `Cats were in business with no outs.
Senior Amanda Marquez came through with a clutch double that plated two runs and gave VU the lead. Junior Ali Lowe's productive groundout moved Kera Pezzuti, running for Marquez, to third base with one out. A suicide squeeze attempt from senior Valerie Ortega was bunted back to pitcher Abbey Houston. Houston's throw home beat Pezzuti but the hard slide knocked the ball loose and catcher Kaci Madden was charged with an error, allowing the Wildcats' third run to score.
That would prove to be all the margin Poppe needed. The product of Bishop Shanahan High School surrendered a single in both the sixth and seventh innings but never allowed a runner to advance beyond second. In fact, no RU runner reached third base in the second game. Poppe is now 14-13 while Rutgers starting pitcher Dresden Maddox absorbed the loss.
Early offense spelled the difference in the opener, as Rutgers notched three runs in the first inning and three more in the second frame to grab a commanding 6-0 advantage before the Wildcats had been to the plate in the second inning. Bates had a home run and three RBI while Howard contributed two hits and scored three runs.
Kaity Sitzman came on in relief of Poppe to toss 3 plus innings of shutout relief that allowed the Wildcats to pull within 6-2 after an uprising in the home half of the fifth inning. Sophomore Beth Smetana had an RBI single while Marquez and Lowe each scored a run.
Rutgers, though, tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh inning on two wild pitches to make the final count 8-2.
The Wildcats return to action with a single game at Penn on Thursday night at 6:00 p.m.