Fullerton, Calif. – Near misses and big flys proved to be the difference on the day for the Pacific softball team as the Tigers dropped a pair of contests to some of the nation's best teams on Saturday, Mar. 16. Opening the day against No. 2 Arizona State, the Tigers suffered a gut-wrenching loss in extra-innings, falling 5-4 (8 inn.) to the Sun Devils before dropping a 5-1 decision to No. 21 Virginia Tech. The losses dropped the Tigers record to 15-14 on the year.
(2) Arizona State (29-2) 5 – Pacific (15-13) 4 (8 inn.)
For the second consecutive day at the Judi Garman Tournament, the Tigers faced one of the top teams in the country as Pacific took on the No. 2 ranked Sun Devils looking for their first big upset of the year. For seven innings, the Tigers' hopes for the upset looked possible as Pacific took the Sun Devils best shot but kept coming.
Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Tigers rallied to tie the game at 4-4 behind a three-hit onslaught that culminated in senior Amy Moore's two-RBI single. Moore's single in the seventh came with the Tigers' down to their last strike as she laced a single to right-center that brought in senior Megan Hom and junior Megan Foglesong.
Prior to the seventh, the Tigers scored single runs in the second and sixth innings to keep within striking distance of ASU. Moore started both run producing innings for the Tigers as she singled to leadoff the second while taking a pitch off the leg in the sixth.
Despite the Tigers' comeback, the upset was not to be as ASU matched Pacific's two-out rally from the seventh in the top of the eighth with a single run. Taking advantage of the gifted runner at second due to international tie-breaking rules, the Sun Devils got a pinch-hit single through the left-side that would be the difference in the game.
Pacific was not without its chances to answer in the eighth as the free runner at second was moved to third without an out in the inning only to be stranded 60 feet from pay dirt. In addition to the miss in eighth, the Tigers just missed runs in the sixth and seventh innings of play as Pacific left two in scoring position in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Junior Tori Shepard (3-3) was tagged with the loss after going 8.0 solid innings in the circle while throwing 155 pitches. The junior finished the morning with 10 hits against and three earned runs (five total against) in the loss. The biggest damage against Shepard came on two swings as Alix Johnson and Sam Parlich each provided ASU with instant offense on a pair of home runs. All-American Dallas Escobedo (15-2) took the win in relief as she threw 6.2 innings of work while giving up eight hits and three runs while striking out three.
(21) Virginia Tech (18-3) 5 – Pacific (15-14) 1
After suffering from missed opportunities in the first game of the day, the Tigers hit similar snags against No. 21 Virginia as Pacific fell for the second-straight contest. Against the Hokies, the Tigers fell behind early as Virginia Tech jumped out front with four runs in the top of the first. Once again, the big damage, just as in the first game of the day, came from one swing of the bat as Kelsey Mericka hit a three-run home run to cap four runs out of the top four spots in the order.
At plate, the Tigers put up seven hits and plated a single run, scoring in the fifth to answer the Hokies fifth and final run of the night. In the inning the Tigers used a pair of singles and a sacrifice to set up the score while a ground ball by junior Megan Foglesong plated the lone run of the afternoon. Throughout the game, the Tigers had chances for more on the scoreboard, with the biggest chance coming in the third when the Tigers loaded the bases only to come up empty handed.
In the circle, freshman Carly Mortensen (2-2) dropped the decision as she went all seven innings while giving up nine hits and five runs. Over the final six innings of play the freshman allowed just five hits and one run, but the big first inning was too much for her Tigers to overcome. On the other side, Kelly Heinz (9-0) grabbed the win for the Hokies as she went 7.0 innings while giving up seven hits and one run while walking one and striking out four.
The Tigers will finish play at the Judi Garman on Sunday, Mar. 17 when they hit the field at 10:00 am to take on No. 16 Washington.