Second Day Split At The NFCA Leadoff Classic Comes Courtesy Of 7th Inning Rallies

#23 Melanie Habib - Photo by: Wilma Beumeler
#23 Melanie Habib - Photo by: Wilma Beumeler
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Clearwater, Fla. – In a tale of two nearly mirror image contests, the Pacific softball team split a pair of games on day two of the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Tigers opened the day with a 6-5 win over Fordham before falling 6-5 to DePaul to close out day two play. The split for the Tigers ran their record to 8-4 on the year and 2-2 in the tournament.

Game 1
Pacific 6 – Fordham 5

Playing from behind for much of the day, the Tigers rallied late in the seventh inning to take home their first come-from-behind victory of the year. Down 5-4 in the top of the seventh and facing their final strike, Pacific stunned the Rams with a two-RBI single to turn the tables on Fordham and come away with the win.

With the bases loaded and facing a 1-2 count, freshman Melanie Habib delivered the game-saving, and game-winning, single to center that delivered Pacific's final two runs of the inning. Prior to Habib's hit, the Tigers had posted the first of their three seventh inning runs on a hard hit ball to third that was misplayed by the Rams. The RBI was credited to freshman Nicole Zapotoczny on the play.

In addition to her well-timed single in the seventh, the story of the game was the young shortstop as she knocked in a pair of runs in the top of the sixth as well. After a walk to Zapotoczny and a double by senior Megan Allen set the table, Habib drove home her teammates with a shot up the middle to get Pacific back into the game. Overall, Habib finished the contest 4-for-4 with four RBI as the bottom of the order delivered six of the Tigers' nine hits. 

Habib's clutch hitting helped deliver the first win of the season to sophomore Dani Bonnet (1-1) as the Tiger starter threw well, but appeared snake-bitten at times. Throwing all seven innings for the Tigers, Bonnet could not catch a break for most of the game as every mishit  and blooped ball seemed to find a hole. For the sophomore, the only real mistake of the afternoon came in the fifth when she left a pitch over the middle of the plate and saw Elise Fortier deposit it over the left field fence for three runs. Despite the mistake, Bonnet was able to keep in control and keep the Tigers within reach until her teammates could pick her up over the final three innings of play. 

Game 2
DePaul 6 – Pacific 5

With the late inning rally going in their favor in the opening game, the Tigers saw the late inning magic turned against them in the night cap as the Demons rallied over the final two innings of play to down Pacific. Leading 4-3 in the sixth, the Tigers relinquished three runs over the final two innings and saw their own seventh inning rally come up just short in the loss.

Early in the contest, the Tigers had to fight back from three runs down as DePaul jumped out front with a single run in the first and two in the second against Pacific starter, junior Tori Shepard. The two runs in the second came on one swing as Shepard gave up a home run to her counterpart, Hannah Penna, to fall behind 3-0. The pitch would be the junior's last as she suffered an injury and gave way to freshman Carly Mortensen.

Tasked with cooling off a hot starting offense, Mortensen was ready to go as she, along with a stellar showing in the field by Pacific's defense, kept the Demons at bay until the sixth inning. Showing a particular penchant for the glove in the game was junior Megan Foglesong as the leftfielder made two spectacular diving catches on the left field line and threw in a defensive assist, for good measure. Alongside of Foglesong, senior Megan Hom tallied her first defensive assist of the year as the standout centerfielder erased a would-be score from the Demons by catching DePaul trying to score from second on a ball hit back up the middle in the fourth.

Despite the Tigers' and Mortensen's best efforts, the comeback win was not to be as the Demons plated an unearned run in the sixth to tie the game. A one-out, two-RBI single by Paige Peterson in the seventh proved to be the difference in the game as Mortensen was tagged with her first career loss.

Offensively, the Tigers scored a pair of runs in both the second and third innings to take the lead from the Demons after trailing by three early. In the second, Pacific loaded the bases with one out on three singles by the middle of the order before a two-out errant pitch struck Habib and pushed in the first run of the game. A small flare just in front of the plate by Hom found the ground in front of Penna to plate the second run, but Pacific would leave the bases loaded without striking for more.

An inning later, the Tigers turned a double by junior Taylor Petty and a walk to Armagost into two runs as senior Amy Moore drove home the first run while a sacrifice fly by Allen brought home the second score. Despite the runs, the Tigers left a little on the table as a base running error ended Pacific's inning prematurely.

In the seventh, while trailing by two, Pacific mounted a rally as an error gave Pacific its fifth run of the game before Moore's single to left put the tying run in scoring position. 

Overall, the Tigers had 10 hits in the loss with Hom, Moore and Zapotoczny each picking up two in the game.

Pacific will look to finish the NFCA Leadoff Classic on a high note as the Tigers face off against Indiana in early morning action on the final day of play. The two teams will play at 7:00 am (PST) in the fifth and final game of the tournament for both teams.