Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

The 10th-ranked Florida Tech Panthers got a brilliant pitching performance from Melanie Murphy and took advantage of miscues from the Palm Beach Atlantic defense to earn a 2-1 win in Friday’s opening game of a Sunshine State Conference softball series.

Statistically, the game looks pretty even, considering the score and the fact that each team had four hits, but the Panthers left 10 runners on base. That’s something coach Val Silvestrini was well aware of after the game.

“We hit the ball hard and had good quality at-bats,” she said. “We did a good job getting runners on base, we just need to do a better job scoring those runs.”

Murphy (14-5) threw her 12th complete-game, allowing just four hits and retiring 12 of the first 15 hitters she faced. Murphy struck out seven and walked only one, throwing 107 pitches, 80 for strikes.

“She did great,” said Silvestrini of Murphy. “It’s nice to have a pitcher that you know you can score only two runs and win a game. She was spinning the ball so hard they couldn’t get the bunt down and that was huge.”

To Silvestrini’s point, the Sailfish bunted at least four different times that catcher Vanessa Rubio made the play on. The nicest of those plays came in the fourth inning when a bunt off the bat of Katherine Budnovich went behind her and she dove to make a great catch as she hit the ground in foul territory.

PBA would attempt the bunt with two consecutive batters in the fifth and Rubio made the play on both.

Florida Tech (27-8, 11-5 SSC) didn’t get much done offensively, hitting four singles in the game from four different players. They were able to take advantage of three PBA errors, two of them coming in the first inning.

Xiarysse Emerenciana singled and as she usually does, she swiped second successfully. The throw went into center, allowing her to get to third. One out later, Rubio hit one to short that was mishandled, allowing her to reach and Emerenciana scored the first run. For Emerenciana, that was her 29th run scored, which leads the Sunshine State Conference.

Murphy’s only real mistake in the game came in the second inning, when she allowed a solo home run to Janie McCloskey, leading off the frame.

Florida Tech’s second run came in the third inning. Tina Velazquez reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a Rubio single. Rachel Kraak ran for Velazquez, and she went to third on a Jaden Kline single, loading the bases. That brought up Ally Carver, who hit one toward short that was bobbled twice, allowing Kraak to score the eventual winning run.

The Sailfish (21-16, 9-7 SSC) got a runner to third with one out in the sixth, but Murphy got a strikeout and a pop out to end it. A single and a hit batter got the tying run to second for PBA in the seventh, but Murphy got Magnolia West to ground out, ending the game.

West came into Friday’s game hitting .393, and Murphy was able to hold her to an 0-for-4 day.

Sailfish starter Abbey Busby was victimized by her teammates’ struggles in the field, but she allowed four hits in five innings of work. Neither of the two runs she allowed was earned. She walked three and struck out one.

For more info: Palm Beach Atlantic @ Florida Tech Box Score

The series concludes Saturday with a doubleheader at Nancy Bottge Field. Game one is set to start at noon.

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