TAMPA, Fla. (March 24, 2012) - On a day where pitching was spotlighted, the 11th ranked Tars (24-6, 7-2) escaped Tampa, Fla. with a split of Saturday afternoon's double header with conference rival, the University of Tampa Spartans. Rollins fell in game one by a score of 4-1 but took game two thanks to a late game rally, 5-0, in 11 innings.
Game one saw the Tars take an early lead, scoring one in the 2nd off of Spartans starter Kayla Cox courtesy of a Tampa miscue. Senior Krista Rodden was hit by a pitch to lead off the Rollins inning and advanced to second shortly after on a wild pitch.
Rodden then drew a pickoff throw from Tampa catcher Becky Vyzas that sailed into centerfield that not only allowed her to take third, but dribbled far enough away for her to round third and score on the error.
The lead was short lived as the Spartans answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the third. Vyzas singled through the left side to score Susan Jallo after Jallo reached on a two out double and moved to third on a Tars fielding miscue.
After Rollins was unable to cash in on a leadoff triple from senior Monica Meadows in the fourth, Tampa plated three more runs in an inning where they notched four hits, three of which came with two outs.
The three run deficit would prove to be more than enough as Rollins did not advance another runner past second base the rest of the way as Cox (11-1) would cruise to the complete game victory. The NC State transfer gave up one run, zero earned, on five hits.
Amye McIntyre (7-3) suffered the loss for the Tars as she gave up four runs, three earned, on six hits in six innings pitched.
Game two featured a matchup of last night's starters, Hope Bitzer, the ace for Rollins, and Deanna Henriott for Tampa.
Henriott picked up right where she left off, retiring Rollins in order in the first.
In Tampa's half, the Spartans made Bitzer work, loading the bases with one out. Bitzer struck out Meagan Burke and forced Katlyn Raatz to foul out to end the inning and strand three Spartan runners.
This became the theme of game two as Henriott and Bitzer hung zero after zero on the scoreboard all afternoon long, forcing the game into extra innings in a scoreless tie.
It was in the top of the 11th when the Tars finally got to Henriott and blew the game wide open, exploding for five runs on four hits as well as one Tampa error. Junior Tara Turner led off the inning with a single and was replaced by pinch runner, McIntyre. McIntyre was then sacrificed to second on a bunt by freshman Shelby Walters.
Tampa then elected to intentionally walk junior Aimee Halpin, her second of the game, to put runners on first and second with one out.
Rollins then followed with three extra base hits, starting with a Meadows double to deep right center that scored both McIntyre and Halpin. Meadows would then score easily on a Rodden double off of the top of the fence in center. Senior Lawna Hunter, not to be outdone, then drove in Rodden on a triple to right to push the lead to 4-0.
Hunter would then come into score immediately after as senior Meredith Foster reached on an error.
Bitzer (13-3) retired the Spartans 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning to secure the victory, her fourth shutout of the year. Bitzer went 11.0 innings while giving up nine hits and striking out 16.
Henriott (15-3) took the loss, going 11.0 innings while giving up five runs, four earned, on eight hits.
The Tars will be back in action Wednesday, Mar. 28 when they welcome Mount Mercy to Winter Park for a double header with game one set for 6 pm. Fans can follow all the action live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com.