CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Saint Joseph's softball team put up two strong efforts in the opening day of the Under Armour Showcase. Going to extra innings in both games, the Hawks eventually fell to Purdue in the opener, 3-2, in eight innings and battled tough in a marathon versus host South Florida, but came up short, 11-9, in 11 innings.
In the opener, the Hawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Rookie Sarah Ostaszewski singled home Amanda Kulp for the first run of the inning and later came around to score on a Purdue fielding error off a single by Raelynn Genovese.
The Boilermarkers struck for a pair of runs, only one of which was earned, in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 2-2.
Following three scoreless innings, SJU and Purdue went to extra frames.
Saint Joseph's got the go-ahead run to third base in the top of the eighth, but couldn't get the runner around to score.
In the bottom of the inning, Purdue was able to score the game-winning run off a two-out single.
For the game, Genovese led SJU going 2-for-4, while sophomore Ashley Ventura was the hard-luck loser in the circle as she went 7.2 innings and allowed just one earned run on nine hits, while striking out four.
South Flordia tied it a 1-1 in the second, but the Hawks regained the lead in the top of the third with a pair of runs. Kulp scored first for SJU on a fielder's choice by Zierke, while Zierke would later come around to make it 3-1 on a single by Abigail Stroud.
Saint Joseph's pushed its lead to 4-1 in the fourth as Molly Kapala scored on a single by Zierke.
South Florida rallied with four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-4 lead, but again the Hawks answered as a double by Ostaszewski in the top of the sixth scored Kulp to tie the game at 5-5.
The Bulls once again regained the lead, this time plating two in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-5.
Following a one-out walk by Ventura in the top of the seventh, sophomore Taryn Grober delivered a two-run home run to tie the game at 7-7.
After a scoreless bottom half of the seventh, SJU plated a run in the top of the eighth as Herrera scored on a triple by Ostaszewski.
South Florida tied it in the eighth, and once again the Hawks retook the lead as Erica Nugent scored on a sacrifice fly by Ventura to make it 9-8.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Bulls rallied with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 9-9 and would end the game in the bottom of the 11th with a two-run home run.
On the night, Zierke went 2-for-6 with three RBIs and a run scored, while Grober went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Kulp, Herrera and Ostaszewski each added two hits on the game, with Kulp and Herrera scoring twice.
In the circle, Ventura fell to 2-4 on the year allowing three earned runs over five relief innings despite posting a game-high six strikeouts.
The Hawks (3-9) are back in action on Saturday with a 4:15 game against SIUE followed by a 6:30 p.m. game versus USC-Upstate.