Pitching Shines in Panthers Split with Saints

After starting the season 0-7, the Panthers have been playing great softball and that continued Tuesday, as they split a doubleheader with the Flagler Saints at Nancy Bottge Field. The Panthers took game one 2-1, before dropping game two, 3-1.

After picking up her 300th win on Friday at Eckerd, Panthers coach Val Silvestrini started her trek toward 400 with a win on Saturday and a win in game one on Tuesday.

Game one of the afternoon was a pitcher’s duel. Jordan Lawlis had it going for the Panthers against Kyra Gipson.

Najah Gerrald had an infield single off Lawlis to start the game, but the Panthers defense turned a double play in the first inning and picked up a run in the bottom of the inning.

Cheyenne Nelson led off with a single, extending her hitting streak to 10 games. Mikayla Wessel singled and went to second on a throw off the second baseman’s glove. Nelson moved to third on the play. Nelson would later score on a Vanessa Rubio groundout, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Lawlis would walk a batter before she went on to retire nine in a row, before walking a batter in the fifth. Gipson answered retiring eight in a row. Flagler would finally get on the board in the top of the sixth.

Lawlis walked Genevieve Mangini to start the inning. She was sacrificed to second and Gerrald’s infield hit to put runners at the corners. A tough error on the Panthers allowed the Saints to score the tying run. After giving up a single, Lawlis would give way to Tina Velazquez Rolon, who got out of the inning.

Lawlis pitched a stellar game, giving up two of three hits to Gerrald in 5.2 innings. She allowed one run, three walks and struck out three. Of her 91 pitches, 55 were strikes.

The Panthers offense would pick her up in the bottom of the inning. Rubio would single and pinch-runner Whitney Ellis came on to pinch run. One out later, Victoria Szrom doubled, and Ellis scored the go-ahead run, putting the Panthers up 2-1.

Velazquez Rolon would get a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh, picking up the win and improved to 5-3 on the season.

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

Velazquez Rolon got the victory in game one and the start in game two. The Saints got to her early this time, scoring all their runs in the first inning. Maria Kappos got the Saints on the board with an RBI single, Morgan Murphy followed with one of her own, and a single from Mackenzie Smith put a cap on the big inning for Flagler.

The home team would load the bases in the bottom of the first but came up empty. They would rectify that in the second inning. Ashley Campbell singled and Ellis would sacrifice her to second. Katie Maiello’s single put two on and Nelson would sacrifice both runners 60 feet. Wessel would single Campbell home, and making it 3-1.

The Panthers had a chance in the seventh, starting with a walk from Maiello after she was down 0-2 in a great at-bat. A single from Nelson gave Florida Tech runners at first and second. After Wessel lined out, Jaden Kline hit a rocket line drive that the Saints turned into a game-ending double play.

Velazquez (5-4) went the distance in this one, throwing 145 pitches, 81 for strikes. She threw 164 total pitches on this night, walking five and striking out seven in that second game.

Madelyn Wise was aces for the Saints. She got the complete-game victory in game two, allowing one run on five hits. One of those five hits was Nelson’s, upping her hitting streak to 11 games. Wise walked four and struck out four, throwing 127 pitches.

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

Florida Tech (7-9) will jump back into Sunshine State Conference play on Friday night, playing host to Lynn University at Nancy Bottge Field. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.