April 17, 2005
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Behind two home runs from senior Kari Koller (Rocklin, Calif.), Villanova (29-19, 4-6) found the offense it was looking for and came up with a two-game sweep of Big East rival St. John's (17-24, 4-6) on Sunday afternoon at the Villanova Softball Field, winning the first game 5-3 and the second game 2-1, in eight innings.
In the first inning of the first game, sophomore catcher Cassie Koenig (Las Vegas, Nev.) came up with a huge two-out single to keep the Wildcats' frame alive. Koller followed her with home run number one, a blast over the center field fence for a quick two runs.
Koller's home run would not be the last of the game, however, as sophomore Sheri Donley (Orange, Calif.) led off the bottom of the second inning with a solo homer over left field as Villanova jumped to a 3-0 lead. Senior Veronica Alvarez (Miami, Fla.) then drew a walk and St. John's then pulled their pitcher, Lisa Geer, bringing in Meghan Allman.
Allman's first pitch was an illegal one, which advanced Alvarez to second. Freshman Jackie Dempsey (Lexington, Mass.) sacrificed to advanced Alvarez and after senior Lisa Krueger (Mission Viejo, Calif.) drew a walk, they both found an opportunity to steal. Alvarez successfully stole home to put Villanova up by four.
Koenig doubled to lead off the third inning and then freshman Kayla Felty (Schuylkill Haven, Pa.) came in as the pinch runner. Senior Allie Wisniewski (Smithtown, N.Y.) singled to advance Felty to third. Donley then came up with another hit, a single to score Felty, and put the Wildcats up 5-0.
Senior pitcher Shannon Williams (Macungie, Pa.) started her third consecutive game and got Villanova out of a jam in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and no outs, Williams retired the next three batters to keep the Wildcats from possibly surrendering their lead.
Freshman Kat Walsh (Los Angeles, Calif.) came to pitch in the fifth inning, but after allowing a single and a walk, Williams was back in to finish the frame. St. John's was able to score two runs in the inning and pull within three runs.
The Red Storm managed to score one more run in the sixth inning but the Villanova defense came up big to keep the tying and go-ahead runs off the plates and secure the crucial conference win.
Williams struck out five on the way to her 16th win of the season.
The second game, behind the pitching of senior Kristen Haynes (Fairfax, Calif.), stayed scoreless until the fifth inning.
The Red Storm's Leigh Carlson led off with a single. Blair Belloni then came in to pinch run and advanced to second on a sacrifice. A pitching error would send her to third. Danielle Estrada's RBI-single put St. John's up 1-0. Walsh then came to pitch for Haynes and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Villanova found its answer in Koller, who drilled a solo home run over the left field fence to tie the game.
The game was forced into extra innings and the Wildcats came up on the winning side of the eighth when Koenig led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Lindsey Martin (Sammamish, Wash.). Martin advanced to second on a passed ball and when Koller followed with a double it appeared Martin would head home, however the Red Storm defense was quick to field the ball and Martin stopped at third rather than risk an out. Alvarez then came in to pinch hit for freshman Carolyn Brown (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and it appeared a sacrifice fly was in the cards. However, Allman threw a wild pitch and Martin came in to score the winning run and complete the conference sweep for Villanova.
Walsh picked up the win, her second of the season, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing just one hit while striking out five, and not allowing any runs or walks.
The sweep was Villanova's first in conference play. St. John's, which had swept Rutgers on Saturday, remains locked in the Big East standings with Villanova as the teams both have 4-6 conference records.
Koller's home runs added to her growing career total, as she now has 25 in her career and seven on the season. She and Wisniewski are tied for the team high in that category. Koller's totals for the day included going 3-for-5 at the plate with two runs and three RBI.
The Wildcats return to action on Wednesday, April 20, when they travel to Delaware to face the Blue Hens in non-conference action beginning at 2:30 p.m.