A critical Lady Vol miscue with two down in the seventh inning allowed a pair of Bethune-Cookman runners to score, capping off a three-run rally by the Lady Wildcats in the closing stanza that lifted B-CC to a 3-2 win over Tennessee Saturday night.
The loss dropped co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly's squad to an even 2-2 at the Triple Crown Invitational and marked the fourth time this season that the Orange (4-4-1) had fallen in the last frame of an outing. Bethune-Cookman recorded its initial win in the tournament after three defeats and the 'Cats improved to 3-7 on the campaign with the triumph in the first-ever meeting between the programs.
"We have lost four games in the seventh inning because we failed to keep lead-off runners off base," said Ralph Weekly. "In each case, we had a quick and devastating pitching breakdown. Our pitchers in each situation threw really well for six innings but just could not get outs in the seventh.
"Overall, I think our team is playing hard and has a positive attitude. However, we need some people to step up offensively and defensively in the clutch."
In her club's final at bat, junior Darcy Villalobos punched a base-hit up the middle to start things off for Cookman. Soon after, sophomore pitcher Leigh Ann Ellis retired sophomore Jessica Cabato, advancing Villalobos to second on the play. First baseman Cyndra Poe laced a single into right field to give the Lady Wildcats runners on the corners with one down. A flare into left by sophomore Jamie Tanksly drove in Villalobos to narrow the count to 2-1 in favor of Tennessee and marked the departure of Ellis from the outing.
Junior reliever Stephanie Humphrey had B-CC sophomore Rachel Kilbert tap a ball to freshman first baseman Amber Rhinehart for out number two, moving the
runners over to second and third base. Senior Sabrina Harrison then stepped into the box and pushed an infield grounder that was thrown wide of first and to
the fence, allowing Tanksly and junior pinch runner Jennifer East to come across with the decisive runs. Sunday's results were unavailable at press time.