The Florida Tech softball team stretched their winning streak to five games Thursday, beating Tiffin 3-1 and 1-0 in an afternoon doubleheader at Nancy Bottge Field.
Xiarysse Emerenciana had a hand in all three runs in game one, scoring the first one and hitting an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning. She had two of the three Panther hits in the game, with Mikayla Wessel earning the other.
She led off the bottom of the first with a triple off of Dragons starter Tiffany Snell, that got past the diving Sierra Besser-Paul in left field.
“I thought she was going to get a home run on that triple, but the ball didn’t make it to the fence,” said Panthers coach Val Silvestrini. “If that ball would’ve made it to the fence she would have scored.”
Wessel was next up for the Panthers and her grounder bounced up and hit Tiffin shortstop Brooke Lambert in the chest and Emerenciana came home with the first run.
Panthers starter McKenzie Krutsinger gave up a hit and a walk in the first inning but came back to strike out two in the second frame. She ran into trouble in the fourth, giving up back-to-back singles to Alayna Lytle and Lambert.
Amanda Rock hit one to first that was bobbled and after initially calling her out, the umpires got together and the call was reversed. One out later, Gabrielle Hess hit a fly ball to right that Ally Carver initially got to and had it in her glove, only to have it pop out and allow the tying run to score.
In the midst of that play, Tiffin lost track of the situation and ended up with two runners on third, giving the Panthers the second out of the inning. Krutsinger then got Jamie Sevenish to ground out, ending the inning with the score, 1-1.
Florida Tech took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Alexus Smith singled and Emerenciana dropped a hard hit fly ball just inside the third-base line. She was running out of the box and her speed had her at third in the blink of an eye. The throw did come home, but Emerenciana slid in ahead of the tag. With that, the Panthers led 3-1.
Krutsinger (4-3) was done after the fourth inning, giving up one run on three hits. She walked two and struck out one, before giving way to Melanie Murphy to start the fifth. It was the first time Murphy pitched since being hurt in the Saint Leo series back on February 24. She took the loss in that game, 3-1.
“We gave her several days off and we didn’t think she was ready to be back last weekend against Tampa,” said Silvestrini. “We think she’s gonna be fine.”
If her performance on Thursday was any indication, she will be fine. Murphy allowed just one hit in her three innings of work and struck out four of the first five batters she faced.
For more info: Tiffin @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)
In game two, Amanda Kahn (2-2) made the start in the circle for Florida Tech and she was outstanding, throwing her second consecutive complete-game. She allowed just three hits, walked two and struck out one, throwing 72 pitches.
“We wanted to see all of our pitchers today, going into a very important series in the conference,” Silvestrini said. “It was good to see all of them did really well.”
Florida Tech (12-11) scored the only run they would need in the fourth inning. Jessica Callahan earned a walk against Tiffin starter Kimmy Reynolds and Vanessa Rubio then drilled a double down the left field line, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Rubio finished the day 2-for-4, with Wessel and Carver getting the other hits in the game.
Kahn took over from there, not allowing another baserunner the rest of the way.
“She’s doing a great job,” Silvestrini said of Kahn. “I think for her it’s big to have 1-2-3 inning and she did that four times in this game. She didn’t let the leadoff batter get on base except for one inning and the defense stepped up for her and made all the routine plays, so she could get out of the innings.”
For more info: Tiffin @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)
The Panthers go back into Sunshine State Conference play on Friday, starting a three-game series with Embry-Riddle.
“They are a really good team, and we are ready to step up to the challenge,” said Silvestrini. ”They have a lot of good players returning and it’s going to be a really good matchup.”
Embry-Riddle comes into the game with a record of 16-3 and had an eight-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday, in game two of a doubleheader against Young Harris.
First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. The series continues Saturday with a noon doubleheader.