April 20, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Sophomore designated player Beth Smetana (San Diego, Calif.) hit a three-run triple in the bottom of the fifth inning but four runs in the top of the sixth inning turned the tables and Villanova (15-24, 2-13 BIG EAST) lost the second game of a doubleheader to No. 10 Louisville (41-6, 14-1 BIG EAST), 5-4, at the Villanova Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day the Cardinals tallied a 1-0 win in the first of three games between the teams this weekend.
All four runs for the Wildcats in the game scored on two swings of the bat, as junior shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) tripled in the bottom of the third inning to tie the score at 1-1 and Smetana broke that tie with a drive to right field for another three-base hit in the fifth inning. Smetana went 2-for-2 with a walk and the three RBIs in the game and freshman center fielder Shea Palmer (Scottsdale, Ariz.) finished 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.
With two outs and two runners on base in the top of the sixth inning Katelyn Mann hit a fly ball to right field which fell in for a two-run single and got Louisville to within one run at 4-3. After a single and a walk loaded the bases Alicja Wolny hit a groundball to second which was initially mishandled and Wolny was ruled to be safe at first on an extremely close play. The tying and go-ahead runs scored on the play and Villanova was unable to make another rally in its final two turns at the plate.
Junior starting pitcher Kaity Sitzman (Tucson, Ariz.) went the first 5 2/3 innings for the Wildcats and was charged with four runs, of which three were earned. She walked three and struck out two while giving up seven hits, and left the game with a 4-3 lead and a runner on base with two outs in the sixth inning.
The error which led to the final two runs scoring in the sixth inning were unearned tallies on the record of Sitzman and freshman Kate Poppe (Downingtown, Pa.), who recorded the final four outs in relief. Poppe (15-17, 2.43 ERA) walked two and struck out two while allowing one hit in the final 1 1/3 innings. She pitched a three-hitter in a complete game effort in the first game of the doubleheader.
Villanova trailed 1-0 before coming up to bat for the first time, as Wolny doubled to right field with two outs and nobody on in the top of the first inning and Maggie Ruckenbrod singled to left-center to score the game's first run. Ruckenbrod was thrown out trying to stretch her hit into a double and Sitzman settled into a groove, scattering four harmless hits over four scoreless innings from the second through the fifth.
Palmer beat out an infield hit leading off the bottom of the third inning, moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Amanda Marquez (Miami, Fla.) and scored when Lowe hit a 2-2 pitch over the defense for an RBI triple to deep left-center field.
In the bottom of the fifth inning Palmer again started a rally by reaching as a leadoff hitter. She walked on four pitches against starting pitcher Caralisa Connell and Marquez' second sacrifice of the game advanced her to second. After Lowe popped up to short for the second out senior first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) walked to extend the inning and Connell was relieved by Rachel Le Coq (17-4, 1.76 ERA).
Sophomore third baseman Briana Fujii (San Jose, Calif.) was hit by a pitch on the first offering from Le Coq and Smetana hit a 1-0 pitch to deep right field that dropped in and cleared the bases. Le Coq got a groundball out to end the inning and wound up retiring seven of the final eight batters of the game to close out the victory.
The final game of the series is scheduled for Sunday beginning at Noon.