By DEVON CONWAY
The Spartans took on the Florida Tech Panthers in a three game series on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 at home. The Spartans ended up sweeping the three game series.
In the first game of the series, the Spartans came out with a spark. Sophomore Makaleigh Dooley pitched, striking out five batters and allowing just one hit and a walk. In the second inning, the Spartans scored as freshman Corynn Miner doubled to left field then moved to third by a single from junior Elly Pillers. Freshman Maddie Farrell drove Miner in after hitting a sacrifice fly out to left field. In the sixth inning, Dooley booted the offense into action, reaching first by an error from FIT. Sophomore Lauren Pascoe came in as pinch-runner and scored all the way from first base from Miner’s single. The Spartans came out swinging, beating FIT 2-0 with a strong start to the series.
The second game hit off with an early lead by Florida Tech. At the top of the first inning, the Panthers scored two runs, giving them a short-lived 2-0 lead. The Spartans fired back, as junior Taylor Farrell singled. Shortly after, senior Bree Setree tripled down the left field line to cut the lead in half. Dooley tied the game with a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Setree to score. The rest of the game remained scoreless, leading to extra innings. At the bottom of the ninth inning, Miner walked to start the inning. Minner moved to second from a single by junior Elly Pillers to eventually put the winning run in scoring position. Junior Shelby Press saved the day with a single, allowing pinch runner junior Alex Walton to round the bases and score. Minner pitched all nine innings, allowing just two runs with three hits and four strikeouts. The Spartans ended the second game strong with a win 3-2.
“The offense did what they have been doing consistently and used one big inning to break open the game and give their pitcher room to work with,” said UT softball staff member Felipe Tellez.
In the final game of the series, Dooley pitched, allowing only a single run in 6.1 innings of work. Press opened the third inning by bunting for a single. Following the lead, Junior Sahrina Cortes bunted to the third base line to allow Press to score, followed by an error on the Panthers. Farrell brought in Cortes on a double to right field. Freshman Brooke Stiles came in as a pinch-runner and scored on a double by Setree. Setree advanced to third by a double from Dooley to score, giving UT a 4-0 lead. At the bottom of the fifth the Spartans added another run as senior Jennie Sittloh hit a double, allowing Dooley round the bases and score. At the bottom of the sixth, UT added their final run of the weekend as Stiles singled, allowing Setree to score. During the seventh inning, the Panthers scored a run, but fell 6-1 to the Spartans.
Dooley has high hopes for the Spartans this upcoming season. “I know some goals for my team would be to play our hardest every single game and to keep the mental errors to a minimum,” Dooley said. “Of course a huge goal for us would be nationals, but for now we’re taking it game by game, just trying to get better everyday.”
The Spartans are set to take on the Lynn University Knights next weekend in Boca Raton, Florida in a three game series.