WINTER PARK, Fla. — After falling behind early, the 14th ranked Tars (35-7, 16-3) fought back with runs in the sixth and seventh to escape with a win against the Panthers of Florida Tech (24-25, 10-12) Tuesday afternoon 2-1.
After Rollins went down in order in the top of the first, the Panthers drew first blood in the bottom of the inning on a RBI double from three batter Lauren Cole.
Tars’ starter Hope Bitzer had some trouble finding her release point out of the gates, walking leadoff batter Brianna Barth, Bitzer’s opposition in the circle for the Panthers, to open the game. Barth was then sacrificed to second before she came around to score on the Cole double.
Rollins would threaten in the third as senior Meredith Foster led off the inning with a single to right center, which also broke up Barth’s perfect game bid, and then moved to second on a sacrifice by sophomore Amye McIntyre.
After Barth sat Hilary Brown down swinging for out number two, junior Aimee Halpin singled to put runners on first and third with two outs.
After Halpin stole second, sophomore Veronica Alred followed with a walk to load the bases. But Barth was able to get senior Monica Meadows swinging to end the threat.
Meadows would avenge the bases loaded strikeout in the sixth. A Daphne, Ala. native, she drove a Barth fastball the opposite way to lead off the inning, just over the fence in right to tie the score 1-1. It was Meadows’ team leading ninth home run of the season.
The Panthers looked to answer in the bottom half of the inning but Bitzer was able to pitch herself out of the two on and nobody out jam to head to the seventh with the score still tied, 1-1.
It was again Foster who started the Tars rally in the seventh, reaching on an error and was even able to take second on the play as the ball trickled far enough away from first baseman Emily Densem for Foster to take second standing up.
After McIntyre sacrificed Foster to third, it was Brown’s turn to avenge the early strikeout as the sophomore laced a lined drive in the gap in left center to plate Foster to give Rollins their first lead of the afternoon 2-1.
The lead would hold as Bitzer (19-3) sat down the Panthers in order in the bottom of the seventh to earn the win. Bitzer gave up just the one run while scattering five hits in her 17th complete game of the season.
Barth (11-14) gave up two runs, one earned, in the complete game loss while striking out seven.