Paula Rieber

The 12th-ranked Florida Tech Panthers completed a weekend sweep of former Florida Tech assistant coach Sean Cotter’s Barry Buccaneers on Saturday at Nancy Bottge Field, taking down the Bucs 6-5 in game one, and needing just five innings to earn a 13-2 win in game two. It was the second run-rule win of the series for the Panthers, who won Friday’s series opener, 10-0.

“We played good softball this series and we battled,” said Panthers head coach Val Silvestrini. “We got good pitching, good hitting, and good defense. I am very proud of this team.”

Vanessa Rubio hit her first home run of the season in game two and went 3-for-7 in the two games, showing why she is the reigning Sunshine State Conference Player of the Week.

Vanessa had a very good weekend,” Silvestrini said. “She finally hit it over the fence, she said with a chuckle. She was very close two other times in this series, so she’s doing really well.”

Cheyenne Nelson had a 3-for-6 day, with four RBIs and two runs scored, and Katie Maiello had a 2-for-4 day with an RBI and two runs scored.

Melanie Murphy (13-5) got the start in game one, and got the first two outs, before walking Peyton Rawls, who came home on an Andrea Johnson double. Fallon Dragich followed with a two-run homer and just like that, it was 3-0 Barry.

Florida Tech cut into the lead in the bottom of the second, against Rawls, who got the start for Barry. Shanysse Emerenciana got things started with a double, and after Ashley Campbell was hit by a pitch, Rawls got the next two outs, only to give up a two-run single to Nelson.

Rubio doubled with one out in the third and gave way to pinch-runner Lexi Bettermann. That move paid off, as Bettermann later scored the tying run on a Jaden Kline single through the left side, knotting the game at three, and forcing Cotter to bring in Gabby Vallee to pitch.

“Jaden is a clutch hitter,” Silvestrini said. “I think she loves the challenge of having runners in scoring position. She’s gonna find a way to score those runners.”

The Panthers took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Maiello and Nelson hit back-to-back singles, and Xiarysse Emerenciana dropped down a bunt that Vallee fielded, but she looked at third to see if the out was there and that proved to be costly, as Xiarysse beat the throw to first, loading the bases. Velazquez would draw a walk, giving the Panthers a 4-3 lead.

One out later, Vallee uncorked a wild pitch that brought home the fifth run, and an RBI groundout by Kline, made it 6-3.

Meanwhile, Murphy had consecutive one, two, three innings in the fourth and fifth, retiring 10-of-11 during that stretch. She ran into trouble in the sixth, hitting Karla Santiago with a pitch and forcing home a run to make it 6-4. Lynsey Duncan’s homer in the seventh made it a one-run game, but Murphy was able to work out of further trouble, getting Dragich to fly out to end the game.

Murphy got the complete game, giving up five earned runs on six hits. She walked three and struck out seven, throwing 77 of her 130 pitches for strikes.

For more info: Barry @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)

Barry (11-27, 4-11 SSC) got on the board first in game two as well, this time against Velazquez, who got the start in game two. Johnson started the second inning with a double, going to third on a Dragich single. Berlin Colvin’s RBI double made it 1-0.

Florida Tech (26-7, 10-5 SSC) came back with a vengeance in the bottom of the frame, scoring nine runs. Vallee walked Kline and hit Shanysse. Mikayla Wessel‘s infield single would then load the bases. Maiello would then reach on a fielder’s choice, as Barry went to second for the out, but didn’t get the call. Cotter argued, but to no avail, and the game was tied 1-1.

A two-run single by Nelson made it 3-1, and a passed ball, an error and a wild pitch made it 6-1. Velazquez then singled, Rubio reached on a fly ball single that the fielder lost in the sun, and Kline walked to load the bases. Shanysse then hit a shot back to the pitcher, who couldn’t field it cleanly. She picked it up and threw home, wildly, allowing two runs to score. Campbell would then score the ninth run of the inning on another error.

Barry would get a run back in the top of the third when Savannah Starling’s steal of second drew a throw, allowing Duncan, who reached on an error to start the inning, to score. That made it 9-2.

As they did in the second inning, the Panthers would again answer in the bottom of the third. Maiello drew a walk, giving way to Bettermann as the pinch-runner. She would later score the Panthers 10th run on a single by Xiarysse. Velazquez followed with an RBI double, making it 11-1, and Rubio’s two-run shot to center capped the scoring for the Panthers.

Velazquez (9-2) allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits in her four innings of work. She walked two and struck out six, throwing 74 pitches (43 strikes). Jordan Lawlis pitched the final inning for the Panthers, striking out one.

For more info: Barry @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)

Coach Sivestrini was very complimentary of Cotter, and the job he is doing with Barry, whose roster consists of one senior, one junior, five sophomores, and 11 freshmen.

“He has a young team and he’s gonna make them better every single year,” she said. “These weren’t easy wins, even though we scored a lot of runs. They can hit too, so we weren’t relaxed. We knew they could come back at any time.”

Next up for the Panthers is a trip to St. Augustine on Wednesday, to take on Flagler in a regional game. First pitch is set for 5:00 p.m.

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