Photo: Tina Velazquez Rolon – Credit: Florida Tech Athletics
Florida Tech and Rollins finished their season series Saturday, playing a doubleheader in Winter Park. Rollins won game one 9-0 in five innings and the Panthers answered with a 1-0 win in game two, gaining the split.
Florida Tech managed just one hit in game one against Ali Shenefield who came into the game unbeaten and boasted an earned run average of 0.47 to go along with a 6-0 record.
Couple that with the Tars being ranked eighth in the country and that tells you they don’t need any help. They got it anyway, as the umpires made a couple of very questionable calls in the fifth inning of game one, leading to a five-run inning and the eight-run rule ending the game in five innings.
The Panthers managed just one hit in the game, a leadoff double by Cheyenne Nelson. She was sacrificed to third and the Panthers got another runner on via the walk, but Rollins got out of the inning.
Rollins got on the board first in their half of the second inning. After Tyler Jo Colby ripped a line drive to third that was snared on a diving play by Ashley Campbell, Raiven Bryant walked and would later score on an error to give the home team a 1-0 lead against Panthers game one starter Jordan Lawlis.
A home run by designated hitter Ashley Worrell made it a 2-0 game in the bottom of the third and Bryant’s 2-run single in the fourth made it 4-0.
The decisive fifth inning started with a walk to Worrell. She was sacrificed to second and after a walk to Lindsay Gehring Cynthia Whitty bounced one back to Lawlis in the circle and she ran to the bag herself and stepped on the bag ahead of a sliding Whitty. One problem, she was called safe.
Unlike other schools in the conference, Rollins has access to replay and they showed that play a few times. It was a close play, but from the replays shown, Whitty should have been called out. Instead, the bases were loaded for Tyler Jo Colby, who stroked a ball to the outfield scoring two. The throw went into second and the tag on Colby looked to be in time as she slid into second. She too was called safe, and the Panthers were jobbed for the second time in about two minutes.
Florida Tech head coach Val Silvestrini argued both calls but obviously, there was no overturn. That two-run double made it 6-0. Samantha Guider then came in to pitch in relief of Lawlis and gave up a three-run home run to Bryant, making it 9-0 and ending the game.
Granted Rollins had the lead before the umpires made those controversial calls, but on back-to-back plays, that shouldn’t happen. There was also a hit-by-pitch earlier in the game that was instead called a foul ball. All of these calls were discussed by the Rollins play-by-play crew and they used the word controversial a handful of times. It is sad that in this day and age, replay can’t be used in Division II, It likely would not have changed the outcome of this game, but you would feel the outcome was more fairly represented.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Rollins Box Score (Game 1)
Game two was a pitcher’s duel between Tina Velazquez Rolon for the Panthers and Worrell for the Tars. These two tangled on Thursday in the series opener and the Tars took home a 2-1 victory, The Panthers’ only run in that game came in the bottom of the seventh on a Velazquez Rolon home run.
Nelson led off game one with a double and led off game two with a single. It was the first of only four hits for the Panthers as Worrell and Velazquez Rolon alternated shutout innings. Chloe French would single up the middle in the second, while Nelson got another single in the third.
Rollins first hit came in the fourth when Ashley Troutman singled and proceeded to steal second and third. The Tars would load the bases, but Velazquez Rolon worked out of trouble.
With the game still scoreless in the top of the seventh, Mikayla Lewin and Tori Szrom were both retired, leaving it up to Velazquez Rolon. She got a pitch she could drive and although it didn’t have the look of a home run when it left the bat, it carried up and over the wall for her third home run of the season, and second in three days against Worrell, who came in with a 9-1 record and an ERA of 0.98.
Rollins (16-2, 13-2 SSC) left a runner on in the bottom of the seventh, as their eight-game winning streak came to an end with the loss.
Velazquez (3-2) was impressive, to say the least with the complete-game shutout, allowing two hits and striking out seven.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Rollins Box Score (Game 2)
Florida Tech (12-12, 9-10 SSC) are off until Saturday, May 1 when they travel to West Palm Beach to play Palm Beach Atlantic in a 5:00 game. The series and the season will then conclude on Sunday, May 2 when the two teams play a doubleheader at Nancy Bottge Field beginning at 3:00 p.m.