April 28, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. - Villanova (30-21, 4-13) dropped a tight match with No. 17 South Florida (42-8, 14-3) in the opener of a weekend BIG EAST series. Senior Molly Manning was great in the circle for the Wildcats giving up just one earned run in a complete game and sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe had two of the five Wildcat hits.
The Wildcats were facing all-conference pitcher Sara Nevins and struggled to get their bats going. They had runners reach by walk in the first and fourth innings, but were unable to develop any kind of rallies from there against the tough pitcher.
Meanwhile, Manning was battling through some South Florida threats to keep Villanova in the game. In the first inning, she faced bases loaded with one out, but avoided surrendering any runs by getting back-to-back fly outs to senior center fielder Jamie O'Hara.
South Florida pushed a run across in the second inning when an error led-off the inning. The Bulls again loaded the bases, this time with two outs and they got a big two-out RBI single to give them the early 1-0 lead after one inning of play.
The senior hurler then worked around singles in the third and fourth innings, with junior catcher Amanda Marquez throwing out a would-be base stealer to end the fourth inning.
Villanova developed their first rally of the game when junior second baseman Taylor Olafson walked with two outs and Lowe got the first Villanova hit of the game to put the tying run in scoring position. O'Hara then grounded out to end the threat.
After Manning retired the order in the bottom of the fifth, the Wildcats picked up a one-out single from junior first baseman Valerie Ortega, but Nevins worked out of the jam to keep the Bulls in front.
In the bottom of the sixth, USF added a crucial insurance run to extend their lead to 2-0. After two runners reached to lead off the inning, a one out RBI single put the Bulls in front by two heading to the final frame.
In Villanova's last chance freshman right fielder Beth Smetana and Marquez led off with single to put two runners on with nobody out. A sacrifce bunt by Olafson moved both into scoring position with the tying run at second base. Lowe then lofted a base hit down the left field line to score the first run and put the tying run at third base. However, Nevins buckled down and got a strikeout followed by a foul out to end the game with USF taking the opener 2-1.
The Wildcats will look to take game two of the series later this afternoon.