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Panthers Drop Opener to Angelo State

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown Melanie Murphy pitched a complete game on Saturday, losing 4-3
Picture Credit: Paula Rieber

After being rained out Friday, the Florida Tech Pantheres opened their 2019 softball season against Angelo State on Saturday, as part of the Florida Tech Softball Classic. The Rambelles took advantage of the International tie-breaker rule, starting the eighth inning with a runner at second and they cashed that in, resulting in a 4-3 victory. 

The Panthers (0-1) had their chances in this one, leading on three different occassions, but in the end they would shoot themselves in the foot one too many times on the basepaths and that would be the difference in the game. 

“I’m really happy with the way we played,” said Panthers coach Val Silvestrini. “We did a good job getting on base and our defense was solid, but it came to the little details, baserunning made the difference. If we’re a little bit smarter on the bases, we win that game.” 

Senior Melanie Murphy (0-1) would go the distance for the Panthers in the circle and she got some help from her teammates early. Senior Xiarysse Emerenciana led off with a walk and stole second. She would come home on a single by junior Tina Velazquez, who went 3-for-4 in her Panther debut. 

The lead didn’t last long as ASU got a single from Taegan Kirk and she came home one out later on a line drive home run off the bat of Hatty Shope, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead. 

Velazquez would come through again in the bottom of the third when she laced a two-out double to left. Junior Vanessa Rubio followed with an RBI single, but she was thrown out after getting caught up between first and second. That tied the game at two. 

The Rambelles would start the top of the fourth with a double from Kirk. Jade Strother would then pop one up in front of the plate that Murphy ran in on and dropped to her knees to grab the ball before it hit the ground. She alertly turned and threw to second, doubling up Kirk at second. 

Kirk would go 4-for-4 on the day for the Rambelles. 

Junior Jaden Kline led off the bottom of the frame with a single. She tried to stretch a single into a double and went into the second base bag awkwardly. It looked like she beat the throw, but she was hurt and came off the bag. She did leave the game, but would return later. 

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown Tina Velazquez went 3-for-4 on Saturday

The game would remain tied until the bottom of the sixth when Velazquez drilled a one-out double. As was the case in the third inning, Rubio knocked her in when she smoked a double down the right-field line on a 3-1 count. That put the Panthers ahead 3-2. 

ASU got that run back in the top of the seventh when Shope doubled and later came home on a bunt toward the first base line by Avery Zeigler. Murphy fielded the bunt, but it was perfectly placed and just like that, the game was tied 3-3. A strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play ended the inning, and kept the Rambelles from taking the lead. 

Junior Katrina Hand got a bloop single with one out in the bottom of the seventh and Junior Katie Maiello would hit into a fielder’s choice and get to first. Xiarysse Emerenciana singled to put runners at first and second. A single by freshman Cheyenne Nelson sent Maiello toward the plate with the winning run, but ASU was able to get the ball in and tag Maiello out between third and home. 

With that, the game went to the eighth inning and by rule, the Rambelles started with a runner at second. Ashlyn Lerma laid down a bunt and the throw to first was late and wide, allowing the runner to score and give the Rambelles a 4-3 lead. Lerma would later be thrown out at the plate on a nice play by Murphy on a bunt attempt. 

Makayla Corbin would come in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for ASU and she struck out Velazquez and Rubio, before getting senior Lexi Bettermann to ground out to end the game. 

For more info: Angelo State @ Florida Tech Box Score 

Murphy took the loss in a game she certainly deserved to win. She finished with six strikeouts in eight innings pitched, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits, while walking one. Murphy threw 134 pitches, 86 for strikes. 

“She looked good,” said Silvestrini of Murphy. “Maybe she was a little bit nervous at the beginning, first game of the season, but she’s an outstanding pitcher and evert time she steps on the mound, we know that we have a chance to win.” 

The Panthers played their second game of the day against Palm Beach Atlantic at Melbourne High. The recap of that gmae can be found here