Softball wins three in Orlando

David Roman

After getting off to a fast start, the softball team cooled-off near the end of its opening tournament in Orlando, Fl. To start the new season, the team traveled south to compete in the UCF Early Bird Tournament, playing in five games last weekend.

The Wildcats kicked off the tournament on Friday, defeating George Mason 6-5 in a dramatic, come-from-behind win. After falling behind 4-1 in the second inning, the Wildcats stormed back, led by freshman Shannon O’Brien, who knocked in the game-winning run in the seventh inning. Senior Jackie Dempsey and sophomore Christina Botkins also helped the cause, contributing two hits each, while senior Megan Hord got the win, striking out eight in 3.2 innings.

In their second game on Friday, the Wildcats beat host team UCF 5-3. Freshman Caitlyn Delahaba pitched well, throwing a complete game eight-hitter, while striking out six, posting her first collegiate win. Junior Jess O’Boyle went 2-4 with one run scored, while junior Eryn Teague went 2-3 with an RBI. The Wildcats struck the hardest in the fifth inning, taking advantage of UCF’s poor defense to score two runs, giving them a four-run cushion that helped them seal the victory.

The Wildcats continued their winning ways on Saturday, defeating Western Carolina 1-0 to move their record to 3-0. Freshman Molly Manning pitched, throwing a complete game two-hitter while striking out eight, also posting her first college win. The game remained a pitching duel until the sixth inning, when O’Boyle singled and stole second to get into scoring position.

However, the Wildcats struggled in their last game on Saturday, losing 4-3 to North Florida in eight innings. Villanova started strong, with junior Danielle Maricle leading off the game with a single. Maricle put the Wildcats up 1-0 after senior Meghan Morese’s RBI single. That score would remain unchanged until the sixth inning, when North Florida would tie the game on an RBI single. In the seventh, the teams exchanged runs, with Hord tripling and scoring. However, with two outs and two runners on, North Florida hit a two-run double to seal the victory.

While the Wildcats out-hit North Florida and Delahaba pitched another strong game, the team wasn’t able to grab the win.

In their final game of the tournament on Sunday, the ‘Cats lost to Tennessee 9-4. The ‘Cats actually struck first, scoring four runs in the third inning. Dempsey and Morese both had RBI singles in the inning, while Maricle and Teague pulled off a double steal to score another.

However, Tennessee’s offense was too strong, scoring six runs in the bottom of the same inning. After loading the bases with nobody out, the big hit came when the Lady Vols hit a three-RBI triple to right field. Tennessee would go on to score three more times, scoring one in the fourth and two in the fifth. Villanova had a chance to strike back in the final inning, but ended the game with the bases loaded.

While the weekend may have ended disappointingly, the Wildcat’s look to have a strong team this year, with senior leadership in Dempsey and Morese and strong freshmen pitchers in Delahaba and Manning.

The team has the week off but returns to Florida on Feb. 27 to compete in another tournament.