SAINT LEO – Pitching dominated the first three innings of Friday night's game between Florida Southern and #9 Saint Leo, and a pair of deflected ground ball singles in the next three innings ended up being an even bigger part of the story. One of those resulted in a game-tying hit for the Moccasins, but the next one turned into a go-ahead 2-run single for the Lions who went on for a 5-1 win in the series opener.
The teams combined for only one base runner through the first three innings as Florida Southern junior Brandi Jones set down all nine Lions, and Saint Leo junior Stephanie Adkins retired the first eight Moccasins. The only player to reach base for either team was Moccasin junior shortstop Beri Scott who out-ran a throw by Saint Leo catcher Sommer Pollard for a bunt single in the top of the third.
The top of the fourth saw the first serious scoring threat of the night when the Moccasins (10-18-1, 3-6-1 Sunshine State Conference) got a pair of 1-out walks from juniors Erica Morrissey and Maggie Roberts. Freshmen Zierra Flodman and Jessica Trana followed and made Adkins work by taking her deep in the count, but the Saint Leo pitcher got the outs with a fly ball to left and grounder to short.
The Lions (24-1, 9-1) picked up their first base runner in the bottom of the fourth when Tiffany Thompson reached on an infield single. Thompson was originally ruled out on the play when Scott and Roberts combined for a sharp-looking defensive play going from short-to-first, but the call was reversed, putting Thompson on base. She would later score on a double by Brooke Samios-Uy, giving Saint Leo a 1-0 lead.
Florida Southern came right back in the top of the fifth to tie the game. Sophomore Ashlyn Worcester singled into left center and took second when a bunt by Scott was mishandled for an error. Two batters later, with runners still at first and second and two out, junior Erin Klein hit a ground ball that was deflected by diving third baseman Ciera Schumaker into left center. The resulting single brought in Worcester for the tying run.
In the bottom half of the fifth, the Lions re-claimed the lead by scoring two runs a very similar play. With two out, and runners on second and third following an earlier walk and single, Thompson hit a chopper up the middle that junior pitcher Hannah Loyer jumped to field. Unfortunately for the Moccasins, she got enough of the ball to deflect it into short left as Brittany Creamer and Pollard both scored to make it a 3-1 game.
The Lions tacked on two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth on a bases-loaded walk by Samantha Ohmie and RBI single by Pollard for the final 5-1 margin.
Adkins went the distance for Saint Leo to improve to 10-1, giving up just one unearned run on three hits. She struck out nine and walked two.
Loyer, who came on in relief to start the fifth inning, fell to 2-5. She combined with Jones to limit the Lions, a team hitting a league-best .375, to seven hits and three earned runs.
Florida Southern and Saint Leo will play again Saturday morning with their doubleheader moved up to 10:30 to avoid expected rain later in the day.