The Pitt News

Softball: Orange roll Panthers, sweep series

By Caitlin Hinsey / Staff Writer

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The visiting Syracuse team showed Pitt’s softball team what it looks like to feel at home this weekend.

The Orange (18-18, 9-7 ACC) have won five straight games and seem to be fitting well into the ACC, while the Panthers (13-22, 4-12 ACC) struggle to adjust in their new conference. Pitt has been swept by its last two ACC opponents — Syracuse and Virginia Tech — while losing seven of the last eight games that it has played.

The Panthers’ offense started strongly in all three games, but cooled off as the game progressed. In each of the three games, Pitt held and proceeded to lose leads of at least two runs, which resulted in Pitt’s lackluster weekend.

Syracuse 5, Pitt 2

 Tori Nirschl broke open the scoring in the fourth inning, giving Pitt a 2-0 lead with a home run that was the longest in Vartabedian Field history. The two-run shot cleared the soccer team’s press box, which looms high above and about 15 feet behind the center-field wall. 

The home run stood out as the Panthers’ only hit in the game.

Pitcher Savannah King was pitching well, shutting out the Orange through four innings before allowing two runs with two outs in the fifth. With the bases loaded, Syracuse’s Julie Wambold smacked a double to right center that brought home the tying run. The junior second baseman would go 2-for-3 with two RBIs for the game.

King finished the game having allowed two runs on four hits with four strikeouts in six innings.

Syracuse took the lead in the top of the seventh when junior outfielder Alyssa Dewes hit a two-run homer off reliever Alexa Larkin (6-7), who would be held responsible for the loss. Larkin was pulled after recording only one out as Pitt opted to send in Lauren Vinson. 

Vinson came in with a runner on base who eventually scored the fifth and final run, which was charged to Larkin. Larkin finished with a line of 1/3 innings, three runs on one hit and a strikeout. 

Syracuse 11, Pitt 4

The Orange plated four runs in the fifth inning and five in the sixth inning, erasing Pitt’s early 3-0 lead.

Pitt chased Syracuse starting pitcher Sydney O’Hara from the game in the first inning when she allowed three runs on four hits. Junior outfielders Jordan Fannin and Carly Thea led off with solo, back-to-back home runs. Then Nirschl, the next batter, walked and advanced to second as Maggie Sevilla hit a single to right field. Two batters later, Nirschl came home on an RBI single by Katherine Kramer to push Pitt ahead 3-0.

The Panthers would hold onto their lead, despite Corinne Ozanne’s two-run homer in the third inning. Pitt added a run to its lead in the fourth with an RBI single by Fannin.

Syracuse responded in the next half of the inning by plating four runs. Jasmine Watson’s two-run homer tied the score at 4-4 and O’Hara, who was moved from pitching to first base, also hit a two-run home run, which put the Orange up 6-4. O’Hara finished the game 4-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs.

The Orange continued to dominate at the plate in the sixth by scoring all five runs with two outs. After a fielding error by the Panthers, Syracuse tacked on a run to go up 7-4. The Orange then collected four straight hits to score four runs. King, who also started game two, got the loss to bring her record to 7-14. She gave up 10 runs — only six earned — on 12 hits, while Larkin finished the game and gave up one run on two hits.

Syracuse 12, Pitt 7

The Panthers started the series finale with a three-run home run by Sevilla in the first, but the rest of the game became a back-and-forth affair until Syracuse blew the game open in the seventh.

The Orange responded in the top of the second by scoring four runs. Outfielder Mary Dombrowski hit a two-run homer, while Shirley Daniels and Nicole Lundstrom had RBI hits that put Syracuse in the lead 4-3.

Sophomore infielder Kathryn Duran hit a solo shot in the second to tie the score at 4-4 before Wambold scored on an RBI single in the top of the third. Nirschl responded in the bottom of the third by leading off the inning with a solo home run to make the score 5-5. Syracuse regained the lead in the fourth on an RBI base hit to go up 6-5.

The Orange then opened the lead up in the seventh with the first six batters reaching base before an out was recorded.

Pitt started a rally in the bottom of the seventh with back-to-back hits by Thea and Nirschl and a fielding error that allowed Sevilla to reach base. Thea and Nirschl scored, but it wasn’t enough to erase the deficit in the final inning — yet another familiar scene for the Panthers this weekend.

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Softball: Orange roll Panthers, sweep series