Photo: Tina Velazquez Rolon// Credit: Florida Tech Athletics
Florida Tech swept a softball doubleheader at Saint Leo on Thursday, taking home a 2-1 win in game one and a 4-0 win in game two. In doing so, they extended their winning streak to six games.
A fourth-inning solo home run from Tori Szrom took game one into extra innings where the Panthers got a sacrifice fly from Chloe French in the eighth, bringing in the eventual winning run.
Game two was over early as the Panthers got all the offense they would need in the top of the first, scoring three times. Pitcher Tina Velazquez Rolon made sure it stood up with a stellar performance in the circle. She tossed a complete-game one-hitter that included eight strikeouts.
“I thought our pitching was phenomenal today,” said Panthers head coach Val Silvestrini. “I thought Jordan and Sam complemented each other really well today and I am very happy for them. Tina not only pitched a good game in that second game, but she also called a good game. She called her own game.”
Game one was short on offense but the Panthers found a way scratching across a run in the top of the 8th inning and hanging on for the 2-1 win.
“In the eighth, we found a way to get some runners on and get them in,” said Silvestrini. Sam shut them down after that and that was really good too.”
Jordan Lawlis got the start in the circle for the Panthers. She was opposed by the Lions Maddi Mott.
Lawlis got through the first inning but ran into trouble in the second. She hit Alexis Miniet to start things and after a sacrifice bunt moved her to second, a wild pitch got her to third.
Miniet would scamper home on a sac fly by Alexandra Hare, as she got in just ahead of the throw from Whitney Ellis in left field, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead.
Saint Leo would later load the bases on a Mott sacrifice bunt that she was originally called out on at first, only to have the call reversed to safe. Luckily for the Panthers, Lawlis would get the next batter out, limiting the damage to just one run.
Kacie Kelly got the Lions going in the third with a single and went to second on a groundout. She would then attempt to steal third but was called out for leaving early.
Mott was cruising along for the Lions in the circle until Szrom belted a home run over the left-field wall with two outs in the fourth, tying the game at one.
T4 | Szrom with the 💣!
— Florida Tech Softball (@FloridaTechSB) April 15, 2021
“Tori is clutch and she loves pressure situations,” said Silvestrini when asked about the home run. “She got a good pitch and hit a line drive.”
Lawlis got through the bottom of the fourth thanks in large part to a line-drive double play that got the Panthers defense off the field. That would be the end of the day for her as she gave up one run on four hits in four innings of work. She walked one and struck out one, throwing 32 of her 59 pitches for strikes.
Samantha Guider started the bottom of the fifth for the Panthers in relief of Lawlis and she worked into and out of trouble, getting out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the game tied.
Meanwhile, Mott was in control in the circle. She did allow a single to French in the inning, just the second hit for the Panthers, but she also picked up her 10th and 11th strikeout in the frame.
Florida Tech threatened in the seventh as Ashley Campbell drew her second walk of the game before being pinch-run for. That player was out trying to steal and after pinch-hitter Alexis Clark singled, Mott was able to wiggle off the hook and keep the game knotted at one.
Saint Leo threatened in the bottom of the inning, but yet again had a runner called out for leaving early. That opened the door for the Panthers in the eighth inning. Nelson singled with one out and moved to third on a Mikayla Wessel single.
French wouldn’t waste any time getting Nelson home with a sac fly. That run held up as the Panthers kept Saint Leo off the board in the bottom of the eighth. That would give Guider her fifth win of the season in the circle, as she went four innings, allowing four hits. She walked two and did not record a strikeout.
Mott was the hard-luck loser in this one, throwing a complete game and scattering five hits. Mott struck out 11 and walked only two, but allowed the two earned runs that did her in. She threw 115 pitches, 75 for strikes.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Saint Leo Box Score (Game 1)
Game two got off to a good start for the Panthers, who made sure Lions starting pitcher Shelby Westbrook didn’t make it out of the first. Nelson got things going with a double and went to third on a Wessel single. After Wessel stole second, French hit one on the ground that was fielded, but the throw home was late, and Nelson made it 1-0.
Nelson hit another double in her next at-bat for the Panthers and went 2-for-4 in the game scoring once, after a 1-for-4 first game with a run scored.
“We jumped on their pitcher early and Cheyenne has been hitting well and found a gap,” Silvestrini said.
A wild pitch followed allowing Wessel to score, and forced a pitching change, as Morgan Shannon took over for Westbrook. The Panthers got another run on a Velazquez Rolon sacrifice fly, upping the lead to 3-0.
Velazquez Rolon did her part in the circle as well blanking the Lions while allowing only one hit, a double to Kacie Kelly in the bottom of the fourth. That was a significant hit for Kelly, as she became the all-time doubles leader at Saint Leo with that two-bagger.
The Panthers (11-8, 8-6 SSC) added an insurance run in the sixth inning. French walked and Velazquez Rolon singled one out later. A walk to Alexis Clark loaded the bases and prompted a pitching change for the Lions, as Kayla Betts was called on. After a lineout, Allison Platon came on as a pinch-hitter and drew a walk, scoring French and giving the Panthers a 4-0 lead. Anders then rushed home, trying to catch the Lions sleeping, but she was tagged out to end the inning.
After one batter in the bottom of the sixth, the game was delayed because of a lighting issue in the outfield.
After about 20 minutes the teams were back on the field. Velazquez was able to hold the Lions (13-8, 10-6 SSC) in check in both the sixth and seventh inning, as she got the complete-game victory. Velazquez Rolon allowed just the double, walked one, and struck out eight. She faced 24 batters and threw 110 pitches, 71 for strikes.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Saint Leo Box Score (Game 2)
“I just loved the way they played,” Silvestrini said. “We had some miscues but we didn’t let them get big. This team showed up and gave their best, and before today I can’t remember the last time we swept them at their place.”
With her team on a roll, Silvestrini’s team has gotten things back on track since they lost a doubleheader to Nova Southeastern back on April 1.
“After those two games at Nova we figured some things out,” she said. “What identity we have and what kind of team we are. Things have been working for us.”
These two teams will play a doubleheader in Melbourne on Saturday, April 17. Game one is scheduled for a 3:00 p.m. first pitch.