Clearwater, Fla. – Beginning play at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, the Pacific softball team split a pair of contests on day one of the tournament, falling 4-0 to Hofstra before taking down UMass, 9-0 (6 inn.). The split moved Pacific's record to 7-3 on the year and 1-1 in Clearwater, Fla.
Hofstra 4 – Pacific 0
Opening their weekend, Pacific struggled to adjust to the new time zone and a stellar pitching performance from Hofstra as the Tigers fell 4-0 in seven innings. Normally one of the more proficient offenses in the country, Pacific fell victim to a top performance out of one of the best pitchers in the country in Olivia Galati (3-2). For six innings, the all-american held the Tigers in check and off the bases as Pacific found itself staring at the wrong end of a potential perfect game.
Despite putting a handful of hard hit balls into play, Pacific could not break through against Galati until senior Megan Hom ended the perfection and the no-hitter with a chopper back up the middle to start the seventh. The Tigers would threaten in the inning after an error put two runners on with just one out, but Galati ended the threat and with it Pacific's hope for a late inning rally.
On the other side of the rubber, senior Nikki Armagost (4-1) suffered her first loss of the 2013 campaign as she went the distance in the loss. In 7.0 complete, Armagost gave up seven hits, walked three, and struck out six while being tagged for four earned runs. The big damage against the senior came on two swings as Hofstra hit a pair of home runs, a two-run shot in the second and a solo shot in the sixth, to spot Galati the bulk of her support.
Pacific 9 – UMass 0 (6 Inn.)
Getting the chance to put their opening loss behind them immediately, the Tigers rebounded in a big way, run-ruling UMass, 9-0 (6 inn.) to pick up their first win of the tournament. Throughout the game, Pacific put immense pressure on the UMass defense by putting the ball in play and taking advantage of the Minutewomen's missteps.
In the circle, the Tigers picked up another solid outing out of junior Tori Shepard (3-1) as the third-year starter cruised through the UMass offense en route to her third win of the season. Perfect through three, Shepard struck out five of the first nine she faced while posting seven total stike outs in six innings of work. She would not give up her first hit until a high chopper just in front of the plate broke up her run through the opposition while in total, Shepard would give up just three hits and walk one.
Offensively, the Tigers supplied plenty of support to their hurler by scoring in four of the six innings played and jumping on UMass early. In the first, the Tigers posted the first run of the contest without a hit as a pair of walks and a sacrifice gave way to an RBI ground ball to the right side by Armagost.
An inning later, the Tigers put runners in motion and the ball on the ground and blew the game open with four more runs. Picking up four hits and sending nine to the plate, Pacific saw leadoff singles from freshman Nicole Zapotoczny and senior Megan Allen begin the inning while a trio of errors prolonged the frame and gave the Tigers three runs. For good measure, hits by junior Taylor Petty and Armagost notched one more run as Pacific took the 5-0 lead.
Two innings later, the Tigers again took advantage of a UMass miscue to prolong the fifth and set up scoring opportunities for the top of the lineup. With multiple chances to do damage, Pacific's posted a pair of runs on a bases loaded walk to Hom while a sacrifice fly by junior Megan Foglesong bought home the second.
Finishing off the Minutewomen in the sixth, the Tigers plated the final two runs of the evening as the middle of the order supplied three-straight singles including an RBI knock by Zapotoczny. Loading the bases for the second time in as many innings, this time is was the freshman shortstop, Melanie Habib, that did the honors of the easy RBI as she worked a five-pitch walk to bring in the ninth and final run.
Overall, Pacific picked up nine hits with Armagost and Zapotoczny each tallying two hits in the game. With nine runs across it was Hom, Allen and sophomore Alex Steinmehl that scored the most as the trio each stepped on the plate twice in the contest.
The Tigers will be back in action at the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Saturday, Feb. 23, when they take on Fordham at 12:30 pm (PST) in day two action.