Seniors Carry Wildcats to Victory in Opener Against Seton Hall
May 5, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Villanova (31-23, 5-15) got an outstanding effort on the mound from senior starting pitcher Caitlyn Delahaba who threw a complete game four-hit shutout while senior Molly Manning hit an RBI double and senior Kristi Burlin hit a solo home run to lift the Wildcats to a 2-0 victory over Seton Hall (20-30, 2-18) on Senior Day at the Villanova Softball Field. Prior to the game, six seniors were honored before they played in their last games as a Wildcat.
Delahaba had a relatively care free first inning just surrendering a two-out single while picking up two strikeouts in the frame. In the bottom of the first, the Wildcats jumped on the board with a two out rally after back-to-back doubles by junior first baseman Valerie Ortega and Manning which scored Ortega for a 1-0 lead. The Wildcats then went on to load the bases with a walk and a single by Burlin, but Seton Hall pitcher Danielle DeStaso struck out freshman second baseman Briana Fujii to keep it at a 1-0 Villanova advantage after one inning of play.
Delahaba again surrendered just one hit in the second, this time with one out, but worked around the base knock with a fly out and ground out to end the frame to maintain the Villanova lead. In the bottom of the inning, junior catcher Amanda Marquez just missed a two run home run when she flew out to the warning track in left field and the Wildcats stranded a runner in scoring position.
In the top of the third, Delahaba collected her fourth strikeout of the day in a quick third to keep Villanova in front and give the offense a chance to extend the lead, but they went down in order to end the third.
Delahaba surrendered a one-out walk in the fourth, but a beautifully executed 6-4-3 double play from sophomore shortstop Ali Lowe to Fujii to Ortega killed any kind of Pirate rally. In the bottom of the fourth, Burlin took advantage of her last series in a Wildcat uniform by blasting a solo home run to center field to give Villanova a 2-0 lead. The home run was Burlin's 19th in her career which moves her alone into fifth place in Wildcat history ahead of assistant coach Sheri Donley and Ricci Lugo. The long ball also chased DeStaso from the game and on came pitcher Brooke Tull who retired the next three hitters to end the fourth.
The Pirates put together their best chance of the game in the fifth with back-to-back two out singles to put runners on the corners, but Delahaba went to her best weapon, the strikeout, to get out of the fifth with Villanova still in the lead by a score of 2-0. Villanova had a few runners reach in the bottom of the fifth when junior catcher Amanda Marquez walked and senior center fielder Jamie O'Hara got her 150th career hit on a bunt single to put two runners on base. However, Marquez was picked off of second before Ortega struck out and O'Hara was caught stealing to quickly end the fifth.
Delahaba cruised through the sixth with her first 1-2-3 inning of the day on a pop out and two groundouts, and Tull retired the Wildcats in order to send the game to the seventh with Villanova holding a two run advantage.
Delahaba went to the mound looking to turn in her 7th career shutout and 74th career complete game to lift the Wildcats to victory in the first game of the BIG EAST series. Delahaba picked up a strikeout to start the inning then got a fine defensive play from the reliable shortstop Lowe for the second out of the inning. For the final out, junior second baseman Taylor Olafson corralled a tough groundball and threw the hitter out at first to end the game with Villanova on top 2-0.
The win is Delahaba's 17th of the season which is a season-high for her. The senior went the distance surrendering just four hits, while striking out six and walking none.
The Wildcats will look to sweep the doubleheader on Senior Day in this afternoon's second game.