Softball: Panthers complete successful weekend

RJ Sepich | March 13, 2012    

Wins over Utah State, Eastern Kentucky and UNLV highlighted the Pitt softball team’s trip to… Wins over Utah State, Eastern Kentucky and UNLV highlighted the Pitt softball team’s trip to California to compete in the Long Beach State Invitational. The Panthers (11-6, 0-0 Big East) finished with a 3-2 record on the weekend.

Pitt 2, Oregon State 3

The Panthers dropped their first game of the tournament to Pac-12 opponent Oregon State in a tight contest Friday morning.

Pitt freshman Maggie Sevilla belted her third home run of the season to give Pitt an early lead, but the advantage was short-lived — the Beavers tied the game in the bottom of the first inning.

Two more Oregon State runs in the bottom of the third gave the Beavers — who were ranked just outside the Top 25 in both national softball polls — the lead for good.

Pitt freshman pitcher Savannah King contained the Oregon State attack for the remainder of the game, but the Panther offense could only muster an RBI ground ball from Sevilla as Pitt’s comeback attempt fell one run short.

Pitt 8, Utah State 0 (5 innings)

Pitt head coach Holly Aprile’s team didn’t have to wait long to recover from the defeat as the Panthers used an offensive explosion to mercy-rule Utah State Friday afternoon.

Six Panthers tallied hits as Pitt scored three runs in the second inning and added five more in the fourth to dominate the Aggies.

Sevilla continued her impressive hitting streak with two more hits and another RBI. Senior infielders Niki Cognigni and Ciera Damon each added a pair of hits to help the Panthers’ cause.

Pitt’s other freshman pitcher Alexa Larkin improved her record to 2-2 on the season as she picked up her second career shutout.

Pitt 3, Eastern Kentucky 1

Senior slugger Yvette Bravo smacked a pair of solo home runs to carry the Panthers to a 3-1 victory over Eastern Kentucky Saturday morning.

Her first long ball increased Pitt’s lead to 2-0 in the second inning, and her second home run gave the Panthers a 3-1 cushion in the seventh and final inning of the contest.

Senior catcher Holly Stevens was the other offensive star for Pitt. She drove in the game’s first run and finished with three hits.

Eastern Kentucky tried to rally in the final inning as two Colonels got on base, but King shut the door with a strikeout and a foul-out to seal the Pitt victory and finish off her complete game.

Pitt 3, UNLV 2 (8 innings)

The Panthers needed to overcome an early two-run deficit just to force the extra inning, but they managed to extend their winning streak to three games after a walk-off victory against UNLV Saturday afternoon.

Larkin got her second start of the tournament and allowed two Rebel runs in the first four innings, but Pitt got those runs back in the fifth after a UNLV error.

Cognigni, Bravo and Damon each singled to load the bases at the beginning of the inning. After a strikeout, Sevilla stepped to the plate and hit a ground ball to the UNLV third baseman who threw home for the force out. However, the catcher dropped the ball, allowing Cognigni to score.

Pitt took full advantage of the error when senior Kristen Cheesebrew’s sacrifice fly brought home pinch runner Jessica Rhodunda to tie the game.

King then relieved Larkin in the pitching circle and kept the Rebels off the board until Pitt’s offense produced the winning run in the first extra frame: Another UNLV error allowed Sevilla to score the game-winning run.

Pitt 3, No. 17 UCLA 5

One sloppy inning cost the Panthers as they fell to No. 17 UCLA in the final game of the Long Beach State Invitational Sunday morning.

After a scoreless first inning, the Bruins pounced for all five of their runs in the second inning with the help of two Pitt errors and a walk.

King recovered well from the shaky start to silence the UCLA bats for the remainder of the game, and she even helped herself out with a single in the fifth inning that scored two runs to make the score 5-3.

However, that was the last hit Pitt recorded as a potential comeback fell short against a Pac-12 opponent once again.

The Panthers will face Fordham, George Washington and James Madison at the James Madison Invitational this weekend in their last tournament before Big East conference play begins.

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