TAMPA, FL – The Army West Point softball team held off late rallies in the final two innings by Northern Illinois University (5-8, 0-0, MAC) Saturday morning to defeat the Huskies, 4-3, for the Black Knights’ second straight win at the USF Tournament.
Game 1 vs. NIU
Once again, the Black Knights made early leads stand en route to improving to (5-8, 0-0, PL). A solo home run by Lauren Little in the fifth inning and strong pitching by winner Amanda Eaglin and Breanna Izzo, who denied NIU in the final two frames, to pick up the save.
Army took a quick lead in the first inning after capitalizing on three hits and an error to push across a pair of unearned runs. Angelina Bebek’s RBI double delivered Brook Mitchell, who reached on an error and moved to second on a wild pitch. Kaci Donaldson’s (2-for-4) two-bagger sent Bebek home, but she was stranded at third base.
The Black Knights padded their lead on a single by Little, who was two for three with two RBI and a run scored, off reliever Emily Ditto in the third inning. Taylor Brown drew a walk to lead off that inning, moved to second on Donaldson’s single to left field that knocked out starter Lilly Cassell (0-3). After striking out the first batter, Cassell gave up her first hit to Little.
The Huskies answered with a run in the bottom of the third following three straight hits, to include a double and RBI triple sandwiched around two outs. Following back-to-back walks to load the bases, Eaglin got out of that jam on a popup after coming on in relief.
Little padded Army’s lead to 4-1 in the top of the fifth on a two-out solo shot to left field. It was her second straight hit and the lone run given up by Dato, who kept the Black Knights off the board in the final two innings.
After getting out of a jam with runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fifth, Eaglin was threatened in the sixth where an error, a wild pitch, a walk and single delivered a pair of unearned runs with two outs drawing to within 4-3 of Army.
With the tying run at second, Izzo came on in relief to nix that rally on a groundout. With Army holding that one-run lead, she came through again in the bottom of the seventh. After the lead runner reached on a throwing error, she closed the door on an out by the catch, a popup to the second baseman and a groundout.
Game 2 vs. USC-Upstate
University of South Carolina Upstate scored runs in four of the first five innings en route to defeating the Army West Point softball team, 9-1, in five innings to hand the Black Knights their first loss at the USF Bulls Invitational during the second day of action.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, the Spartans capitalized on three hits and a wild pitch to pull ahead 3-0, then added a single run in the second frame on back-to-back doubles following two outs for a 4-0 lead.
Army (5-9) rallied for a run in the bottom of the second after taking advantage of two hits and a pair of walks to score a run. With one out, Ashton White ripped a single up the middle, moved to second on Lauren Little’s walk and advanced to third on Maddie Wilkes’ single to left field. With bases loaded, winner Maddie Drerup (6-1) issued her second walk in that inning to Grace Snyder, sending home White.
Leading 4-1 after two frames, USC Upstate pushed across three unearned runs in the top of the fourth to pull away 7-1 in the process chasing starter Olivia Farris (1-3). The Spartans forced the game to be called on the eight-run mercy rule with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth.
Drerup, who threw a five-hitter, limited Army to two hits over the final three frames and only once allowed the Black Knights in scoring position. Army’s Angelina Bebek reached second in the bottom of the third after leading off with a single but was stranded.