April 17, 2013
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Freshman pitcher Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.) struck out eight and sophomore third baseman Briana Fujii (San Jose, Calif.) had two hits but Villanova (15-21, 2-10 BIG EAST) could not overcome a home run in the bottom of the first inning and lost to Syracuse (15-22, 3-7 BIG EAST) by a 1-0 final score in the first game of a doubleheader at the SU Softball Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. Later in the day the Orange went on to win the second game, 3-2.
Jasmine Watson hit her eighth home run of the season with two outs in the bottom of the first inning to account for the only run of the game. After she gave the Orange the lead Poppe (15-14, 2.42 ERA) allowed only two runners to advance as far as third base the rest of the game. She stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning by striking out Ashley Dimon and finished the game with six hits and the one run allowed. Poppe walked two and struck out eight, with every one of those strikeouts coming on a swinging third strike.
It took the dominant performance by Poppe, who registered her 13th complete game of the season, to keep up with Syracuse pitcher Stacy Kuwik (10-8, 4.55 ERA). Although the Wildcats had runners on base in five of the seven innings Kuwik was in complete control. She allowed five hits - all singles - and struck out five while not walking anyone.
Fujii went 2-for-3 and senior second baseman Taylor Olafson (Jacksonville, Fla.) was hit by a pitch in her only plate appearance. Villanova also got hits from senior catcher Amanda Marquez (Miami, Fla.), sophomore designated player Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) and freshman left fielder Sierra McConnell (Katy, Texas).
The best scoring threats for the Wildcats came in the fourth and sixth innings. Senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth and Fujii singled through the left side to move her into scoring position. The runners moved up to second and third on a groundout by Smetana but Kuwik got out of the jam with a fielder's choice groundball which resulted in an out at the plate, followed by a fly out to center which ended the inning.
In the sixth inning Fujii singled with two outs and nobody on and Smetana reached on an infield hit. A wild pitch moved up both runners before a groundout to third base got Kuwik out of another tight spot.
Six different players each had one hit for the Orange. Corinne Ozanne reached base three times for Syracuse by going 1-for-1 wand drawing the only two walks for either team in the game.
Villanova hosts a three-game conference series against Louisville this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday which starts at Noon.