Photo: Val Silvestrini – Credit: James Ragan Photography
Florida Tech head softball coach Val Silvestrini is now the all-time winningest coach in Florida Tech history thanks to her Panthers come from behind 3-2 victory in game one of a doubleheader against the Nova Southeastern Sharks on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.
It took eight innings and a two-out rally to get it done, but the Panthers never quit in game one and their perseverance paid off
“For me its an honor. I told the team it was because of them,” said Silvestrini by phone after Saturday’s games. “I never put on cleats at Florida Tech, but I get to coach a great bunch of girls. “It’s the players who win the games.”
Silvestrini notched career-win number 317 with the victory, passing the woman who spent 10 years at the helm of the Panthers, without a losing season. Dr. Nancy Bottge. Bottge passed away in 2016 after a 16-year battle with cancer.
“I never got to meet Nancy Bottge but I see her name every day when I come to work. I always wonder if she would be of this program, Silvestrini said. “In 2015 when we went to regionals for the first time, I remember one of the other coaches coming to me and telling me that Nancy would be proud. That made my day.”
Jolie Miracle went 3-for-4 in game one including the eventual game-winning hit, a single in the top of the seventh. Emily Figueroa and Chloe French had two hits each for the Panthers and Mikayla Lewin was 1-for-4, including the game-tying hit. She had two RBIs.
NSU got on the board first against Panthers starter Jordan Lawlis. An error led to the first run, and a Ryleigh Langwell RBI single making it 2-0.
The score remained that way until the top of the seventh. Miracle singled off the glove of the shortstop and went to second one out later on a Cheyenne Nelson single. After Figueroa singled to load the bases, Lewin came up and smacked a single to left, scoring Miracle and Nelson to tie the game with two outs.
After Nova came up empty in the bottom of the inning, this one went to extras and the Panthers wasted no time. French singled and Mikayla Wessel walked to start the inning. After Ashley Campbell bunted both runners up to second and third, Miracle slapped a single to left, scoring French.
Lawlis (3-5) came back out for the eighth inning and although the Sharks put two runners on, Lawlis git Langwell to pop out to end the game.
“Jordan is a bulldog and always gives us a chance to win,” said Silvestrini. “She pitched a good game for us.”
Lawlis went the distance in game one, throwing eight innings and scattering five NSU hits. Only one of the two runs was earned and she walked five while striking out two. Lawlis threw 104 pitches, finding the strike zone with 42 of them.
For more info: Florida Tech @ NSU Box Score (Game 1)
Game two saw the Panthers put up 11 runs and pounded out 16 hits in an 11-2 six-inning win behind the pitching of Samantha Guider. Guider collected the complete-game victory as the Florida Tech offense kicked it into high gear.
“The pitching has been good we just needed the offense to get going,” Silvestrini said. “We have been pressing and we’ve been nervous, but I think once we got that first game our confidence really went up and we picked each other up.”
Guider (3-3) followed the complete game by Lawlis with one of her own. She threw 46 of her 77 pitches for strikes, picking up seven strikeouts and walking just one. She allowed eight hits and only one of the two runs she gave up was earned.
“Sam got hit a lot but a lot of those were infield hits,” said Silvestrini. “She got out of really tough situations.”
The Panthers (7-8, 6-6 SSC) got on the board in the top of the second inning on a Miracle sac fly scored Mikayla Wessel who singled earlier in the inning, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
One of those tough situations Silvestrini spoke of came in the bottom of the second when a hit-by-pitch, an error, and a walk loaded the bases for Nova Southeastern with nobody out.
Guider never flinched inducing two popouts and a groundout to the next three batters.
“That was big for us,” said Silvestrini. “They had the bases loaded and Sam pitched out of it and then we got a couple of runs.”
Those runs came in the top of the third when Nelson started with a single and went got to third when the ball was played into a two-base error. Lewin would bring her home with a hit, giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead. After a Wessel single loaded the bases, Ashley Cambell’s two-run single chased Lewin and French home, making it 4-0.
Florida Tech would pick up four more runs in the fourth. Freshman Kelly McLaughlin started with a single and Nelson got on thanks to an error. After Figueroa walked to load the bases, Lewin’s two-run single gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead. Figueroa would score on a Tori Szrom single and a fielder’s choice led to the Panthers’ eighth run.
Guider would strike out two in the bottom of the fourth but NSU got singles in between those K’s and they would eventually load the bases again before a groundball got Guider out of the inning.
The Panthers were three outs away from winning this game in five innings, but the Sharks came up with two runs in the fifth and got this one to the sixth with an 8-2 score.
Lewin hit a solo home run with one out in the sixth to make it 9-2 and after singles by Szrom Wessel and Campbell, Ashlynn Shelley knocked two runs in with a single, making it 11-2. A 1-2-3 inning by Guider put this one in the books after six innings.
For more info: Florida Tech @ NSU Box Score (Game 2)
Lewin led the Panthers with a 3-for-4 day that included four RBIs and three runs scored. Wessel had a 3-for-4 day as well, scoring twice. Campbell had a big day as well, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs. Nelson and Szrom had two hits each with Szrom driving in one, along with French.
Florida Tech returns home Wednesday to host Florida Southern in a doubleheader beginning at 3:00 p.m.