Poplaski helps Wheaton extend win streak to 3

Poplaski helps Wheaton extend win streak to 3

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Sophomore centerfielder Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass.) went a combined 5-for-8 with three runs scored and a run batted in to help the Wheaton College softball team extend its current win streak to three games this afternoon with victories over William Paterson University and McDaniel College (Md.) at the 2011 Spring Rebel Games in Kissimmee, Fla. The Lyons scored a run in the sixth and added an insurance marker in the seventh to pull away from the Pioneers, 5-3. In the nightcap, Wheaton used a two-run rally in the bottom of the fifth to edge the Green Terror, 3-2.

The Lyons (5-3) featured a balanced offensive attack as the Lyons reached double figures in hits for the third consecutive contest against William Paterson (4-2). Senior shortstop Katy Salka (Ayer, Mass.) paced the 12-hit attack with a 3-for-4 appearance at the plate, while classmate right fielder Rachel Merrick (Methuen, Mass.) and freshman designated player Ashley Brillon (Attleboro, Mass.) joined Poplaski with multiple hits.

After threatening to score in the second inning, Wheaton finally broke through in the top of the third. Merrick led off the frame with a double to left field. Salka followed with a single to left, but the Pioneer outfielder was unable to make the play cleanly to allow Merrick to score from second and chase starting pitcher Jenna Vitale. The William Paterson defensive woes continued as the Pioneers committed two additional errors in the stanza. The Lyons' made the final error prove costly as Wheaton scored a pair of runs with the bases loaded on an error by a William Paterson infielder to stake the Lyons to a 3-0 advantage.

The Pioneers cracked the scoring column in the fourth inning with the help of some two-out magic. First baseman Jessica Warner singled through the box to cut the William Paterson deficit to 3-1. The Pioneers continued to mount a comeback in the fifth, when the first two hitters reached safely. William Paterson moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Freshman pitcher Allison Baker (Orange, Conn.) entered the pitching circle in relief of junior Lesley Warn (Portland, Maine). Second baseman Lindsey Nadolny greeted Baker with a two-run scoring double to centerfield. Unfazed, Baker retired the next two batters to escape the jam with the score knotted a three-all.

The Lyons quickly regained their advantage in the top of the sixth. Poplaski worked the count full before delivering a single to centerfield. The fleet-footed Poplaski advanced to second on a wild pitch before being pushed over to third on a sacrifice bunt. Merrick gave Wheaton a lead it wouldn't relinquish by lifting a sacrifice fly to right field. The Lyons would tact on an insurance run in the following inning to provide the final margin of victory.

In the pitching circle, Baker (2-2) earned the victory with two and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief. Baker faced just two batters over the minimum, including retiring six of the final seven hitters she faced. Warn pitched effectively in her fourth start on the campaign, allowing three runs on five hits, while recording one strikeout before giving way to Baker.

In the nightcap, Poplaski set the tone from the top of the order with three of Wheaton's eight hits, while five other student-athletes recorded at least one base knock. The sophomore from North Reading, Mass. used her speed to manufacture the Lyons' first run of the contest. She beat out a bunt in between the pitching circle and the catcher then proceeded to swipe second base. Poplaski continued to cause havoc on the base paths by stealing third, and scoring on an errant throw by the catcher to give the hosts the early advantage.

The Green Terror was able to capitalize on Wheaton's lone miscue to take their only lead of the afternoon in the fifth inning. Designated player Erinne Warrenfeltz made the mistake prove costly by driving a single into centerfield to knock in the go-ahead run.

Poplaski ignited the surge in the bottom of the fifth with a bunt single along the first base line. She continued to put pressure on the Green Terror by swiping second base. Freshman second baseman Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass.) was able to work a walk to put the first two base runners aboard. Poplaski and Rocha executed a double steal to put both runners in scoring position. Wheaton continued to be aggressive on the base paths as Poplaski forced the first baseman to make a rushed throw to the plate to cut down the tying run. The McDaniel infielder air-mailed the throw to allow Rocha to score the eventual game-winning run from second.

Warn turned in her second strong outing of the afternoon, limiting the Green Terror to just two hits and a pair of unearned runs over the course of five innings. She retired 12 of the first 14 batters she faced, including posting 1-2-3 innings in the second and fourth. Merrick earned her first save of the season by tossing two scoreless innings of relief.

Wheaton will return to the diamond at 9 a.m. on March 17, when the Lyons face off against Utica College. The Lyons will look to complete their season-series sweep of McDaniel approximately four hours later.