Lyons split pair with non-region foes, open 2010 season in Fort Myers

FORT MYERS, FL- The Wheaton College softball team staged a late rally to win its season opener, 4-2 over Fredonia State University of New York on Saturday at the Lee County Sports Complex during the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic before succumbing to a seventh-inning comeback during a 7-3 loss to the University of Wisconsin at Superior. The Lyons, who are in the midst of a trip to Fort Myers for the 19th straight season, met Fredonia State for the first time since 1997.

Junior Katy Salka (Ayer, MA/Ayer) was 2-for-3 in the opener, while seven other Lyons had one hit apiece, including freshmen Amanda Drury (Tolland, CT/Tolland) and Megan Roy (North Dighton, MA/Dighton-Rehoboth Regional), whose knocks were the first of their respective careers. Sophomore Lesley Warn (Portland, ME/Deering) yielded six hits while fanning two during a complete-game effort. Fredonia State senior Rebecca Zimmerman (Jamestown, NY/Jamestown) took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits during four innings of relief. She struck out four.

Salka's two-out RBI single in the first inning put Wheaton ahead before the Blue Devils plated single runs in the fourth and sixth to grab a 2-1 lead. However, the Lyons rallied in the home half of the sixth with three runs on four hits. Junior Nicole DeRosa's (Greenwich, CT/Greenwich Academy) RBI double plated Salka to knot the game before junior Marissa Hobocan (Shelton, CT/Saint Joseph) and sophomore Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, MA/North Reading) smacked back-to-back run-scoring triples with two down. Wheaton cut down a run at the plate in the top of the seventh, negating a leadoff double by Fredonia State.

Warn went the route again versus Wisconsin-Superior, yielding two earned runs with five strikeouts. Poplaski went 2-for-3 with two runs, junior Rachel Merrick (Methuen, MA/Central Catholic) was 2-for-3, and Hobocan had a pair of hits.

After yielding hits to two of the first three Yellowjacket batters, Warn turned in a stellar performance over the next four-plus innings, holding 16 straight without a hit until the sixth inning, a stretch that included setting down 13 in a row at one point. After allowing a first-frame run, Warn's teammates knotted the score in the home half on Salka's two-out RBI single.

Merrick, who made a diving catch in right field to begin the third inning, led off the second with a double before coming around to score on Poplaski's fielder's choice. However, Wheaton left six on base through the first four innings and clung to a 2-1 lead heading into the seventh.

During the final frame, Wisconsin-Superior plated six runs on three hits and one error, with five of the runs unearned. Freshman Alexis Podpeskar (Virginia, MN), the winning pitcher, provided the big blow with a three-run home run. She fanned six in the circle while yielding eight hits in seven innings. Poplaski scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half to produce the final run.

The Lyons continue a season-opening run of 12 games in six days tomorrow by taking on Stevens Institute of Technology at 9:00 a.m. and University of Scranton at 11:00 a.m.

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