April 29, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Leading 3-0 in the top of the fifth inning, Kate Poppe registered back-to-back whiffs for strikeout number 272 and 273 on the season to break the program's single season strikeout record with three games remaining. It was that kind of day for Poppe and the Villanova softball team (18-31) as the Wildcats shutout Penn 4-0 on a rain plagued Tuesday afternoon at the Villanova Softball Complex.
"It feels great to accomplish a goal I set for myself early in the year," Poppe said. "Nat (Segovia) and I have worked really well together and our bond has really contributed to my success."
The sixth most effective strikeout pitcher in school history as only a sophomore, Poppe entered Tuesday's match ranked fourth in the nation with 263 strikeouts. The sophomore added 11 more to that total to give her 13 double-digit strikeout performances on the year. Poppe dominated Penn batters through her six scoreless innings, allowing only four hits to collect her 13th win on the bump.
"Kate had her "A" game today," Villanova head coach Maria DiBernardi added. "She pitched under some adverse conditions and really kept their batters off balance. Given the rain, I wanted her to go right at them and she did just that, registering 11 strikeouts. It was an impressive showing heading into the weekend."
The triumph improved Villanova's record to 18-31 overall, while dropping the Quakers to 18-20 to finish their regular season.
Villanova took advantage of a leadoff double by Herschberg and a pair of Penn miscues to grab a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first frame.
Propelled by an RBI single to right field by Herschberg in the second inning, Villanova tacked on another run to make it 3-0.
Unaffected by the bases loaded, Poppe showed her veteran poise to strikeout consecutive batters in the third inning and keep the shutout intact.
After Poppe walked and Herschberg singled for the third time, Shea Palmer drove in her seventh run to extend her team's lead to 4-0.
Poppe showed composure once again with the bases loaded in the sixth, getting Emily Stinnett to fly out and dangerous hitter, Sydney Turchin to lineout and end the frame scoreless.
Senior righty Kaity Sitzman tossed a perfect seventh innings to ensure the Wildcats the victory in their final nonconference game of 2014.
The Wildcats will look to play spoiler this weekend when they welcome conference rival St. John's (24-22, 8-8 BIG EAST) to their home diamond. Following Saturday's noon doubleheader, Villanova will honor seniors Ali Lowe, Danielle Lewandowski, Sitzman and Alyssa Lodato as part of its Senior Day festivities.
Be sure to follow the team socially on Twitter @VUSoftball, Instagram @novasoftball and Facebook to stay up to date with the latest news, scores and highlights from the Wildcats throughout the season.