The Florida Tech Panthers welcomed the Caldwell Cougars to Nancy Bottge Field for a doubleheader on Wednesday and took game one 5-1, before losing game two 5-0.
Birthday girl Makayla Palmer went 2-for-3 in game one, getting the big hit in a four-run sixth inning for Florida Tech. In game two, the Panthers were stymied by Cougars starter Jessie Johnston, who allowed two hits and struck out three.
Caldwell got on the board first in game one, against Panthers starter Melanie Murphy. After getting the first two outs, Murphy gave up a double to Carly Testa. Maya Rodriguez then singled, putting runners at the corners. With Katelyn Johnson at the plate, the double steal was called and executed, as the throw from Vanessa Rubio went to second, allowing the run to score.
Florida Tech got that run back in the bottom of the third against Caldwell starter Sara Bearden. Shanysse Emerenciana singled and stole second, coming home one out later on a Mikayla Wessel line drive single, tying the game, 1-1.
The Cougars threatened again in the fifth, getting two runners on with two outs. Marisa Monasseri hit a hot shot toward second and Xiarysse Emerenciana sprawled out to make a diving catch, ending the inning. Emerenciana would repeat the feat in the fifth inning of game two, with her diving stab getting the first out of the inning.
“Our defense was solid all day and its been getting better game-by-game,” said Panthers coach Val Silvestrini.
The Panthers took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Ally Carver reached on an error and stole second. After Jessica Callahan walked, she was pinch-run for by Lexi Bettermann. Rubio then hit a shot to first that took a tricky hop on the dirt and eluded Caldwell first baseman Rodriguez. Rubio went to second on the play, allowing Carver to score the unearned run.
Palmer followed with a line drive single to right, giving the Panthers a 4-1 lead. After Alexus Smith singled and Victoria Szrom moved both runners on a fielder’s choice, Shanysse Emerenciana’s RBI single gave the Panthers a four-run cushion.
“We scored late, said Silvestrini. “I’d like for us to score earlier but we were getting runners on and we were disciplined at the plate, so I felt confident we’d win that game.”
Murphy retired the Cougars in order in the seventh, sending the Panthers to their 10th win in 12 games. For Murphy, it was her sixth win of the season. She allowed one run on four hits, struck out one and walked one.
“Murph pitched really well,” said Silvestrini. “That gives us a lot of confidence.”
For more info: Caldwell @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)
Caldwell (3-7) came back to get the win in game two, led by Anyssia Ramirez, who went 2-for-2 with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored.
Ramirez led off the third inning with a home run off of Panthers starter Amanda Kahn, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. Kahn would get the first out in the top of the fourth before giving up a single to Paige Sandoval, bringing her day to an end. Alaina Perry would come in and give up an RBI single to Ramirez, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead. That run was charged to Kahn, who allowed two runs on four hits in 3.1 innings.
“Amanda gave us a chance, we needed to score a couple runs for her,” Silvestrini said. “Their pitcher did a great job keeping us off-balance. We only had five runners on base and we need more than that in order to get some runs.”
The Panthers (17-13) would get their only two hits of the game in the bottom of the fourth, with Carver and Callahan hitting back-to-back singles. Unfortunately, they would be stranded there, as Johnston got Rubio to line out, Palmer to strike out and Smith to pop out.
Perry would get stung by the home run ball in the seventh inning. With runners at first and third, Monasseri sent one out of the yard and gave the Cougars the 5-0 lead. The Panthers would come up empty in the bottom of the inning.
For more info: Caldwell @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)
Next up for the Panthers is a weekend road trip to Miami Shores to see former assistant coach Sean Cotter and his Barry Buccaneers. The series starts Friday night with a 6:00 game and continues Saturday with a doubleheader at 1:00 p.m.
Barry has won seven in a row and are 16-14 overall, including 1-5 in the Sunshine State Conference. The Panthers will be looking to improve on a 3-6 conference record.