DURHAM, N.C. – A two-run seventh was the difference on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Duke Softball Stadium, as the Duke Blue Devils (12-15, 3-3 ACC) dropped a 5-3 decision to the Pitt Panthers (4-21, 1-5 ACC) to close out the series.
Despite the loss, the Blue Devils still exit the weekend with the series win, their first of 2019. They will hit the road for their next weekend of conference play, heading to Virginia March 22-24.
It was a back-and-forth offensive affair, as each team recorded 11 hits on the day. The first seven hits came within the first two frames of play, highlighted by a two-RBI double to left center that gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead early. Duke would draw within one a half inning later, loading the bases with a pair of singles and two walks. That would lead to Rachel Abboud drawing the inning’s third walk on a 3-2 pitch, cutting the Pitt lead to 2-1.
Pitt would get the run back in the top of the fourth, as three-straight walks led to a single to right that pushed its lead to 3-1. Duke did not take long to respond, reeling off its first double play of the day to avoid any other damage.
Back-to-back singles would start the home half of the fourth for the Blue Devils, as Brianna Butler and Marissa Gagliano started the Duke rally. After a groundout from Jazmine Moreno pushed the runners to second and third, Abboud cleared the bases with a double to right to even the score at 3-3.
Each side would get at least one runner on in each of the next two innings, but it wasn’t until the seventh there was a breakthrough. On the first pitch of the final frame, the Panthers sent one over the wall in left center to jump back in front, 4-3. A single and a sac bunt set up a base hit to center that pushed the Panthers’ fifth run home. Duke would try to rally in the bottom half, with Raine Wilson earning a two-out single to right, but the visitors kept the rally at bay and held on for a 5-3 win.
Abboud led the way for Duke’s 11-hit day, going 2-for-3 at the plate and tying a career high with three runs driven in. Wilson and Caroline Jacobsen also contributed two-hit performances, while five other Blue Devils tallied a base hit. Shelby Walters earned the start for Duke, going 3.0 innings and striking out three while walking four. Butler (5-2) threw the final 4.0 frames, striking out two and walking three.
Duke will remain at home to close out its home stand with a Tuesday afternoon contest against Coastal Carolina on March 19 at the Duke Softball Stadium, with first pitch set for 3 p.m. ET. The Blue Devils will then head to Columbia, S.C., to take on No. 16 South Carolina on Wednesday, March 20 at 6 p.m. Both contests will be broadcast, with Tuesday’s coming on ACC Network Extra and Wednesday’s on SEC Network +. Both can be accessed via WatchESPN.com or the ESPN app.
For more information on Duke softball, follow the Blue Devils on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by searching for “DukeSoftball”. You can also find all-access coverage of all Duke athletic programs on SnapChat by searching for “dukeathletics”.
Extra Base Hits
- Duke did not strike out once on Sunday, marking the second time this season they have accomplished the feat (March 3 vs. Charleston Southern). The Blue Devils turned in five strikeout-free performances in 2018.
- The Blue Devils’ 11 hits mark the fifth time this season they have recorded 10-plus hits in a game and the first time since reeling in 11 against Charleston Southern (March 3). The loss is Duke’s first when recording 10-plus hits this season (4-1).
- Duke recorded two double plays for the first time in a single game in 2019 and for the second time in program history. The other performance came on April 20, 2018 at Virginia Tech, a 3-1 loss.
- Rachel Abboud drove in three runs on the day, tying her career high for RBI in a game, set last season against Savannah State (Feb. 24, 2018).
- Abboud and Deja Davis both extended their career-high reached-base safely streaks on Sunday. Abboud has reached safely in 14-straight contests, while Davis has reached in 10-straight games.
- The fourth inning double was Abboud’s seventh two-bagger of the season, drawing her two shy of tying her total of nine from the 2018 season.
- With two hits on the day, Caroline Jacobsen now has five multi-hit games this season, tying Davis and Jameson Kavel for the team lead.
- Duke’s five through nine hitters all tallied at least one hit on Sunday, going 7-for-14 at the plate in the series finale.