first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on May 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Commentscenter_img Lisaira Daniels just wanted to put the ball in play. After Stephanie Watts led off the first inning with a triple, she knew a simple groundball would likely score her teammate.‘I was actually thinking about slapping one, just because I know that it would be a groundball and sacrificing myself just to score the run in,’ Daniels said in a phone interview Friday.But after seeing a changeup, Daniels kept her hands back and sent the ball to the center field wall. She didn’t hesitate out of the box and slid into third base safely to match Watts’ triple and give Syracuse a quick lead over DePaul.Daniels later scored to push the lead to two runs early in the first inning. Third-seeded SU (43-11) didn’t score again and the No. 2 Blue Demons (39-13) didn’t score at all as the Orange earned a 2-0 win in the semifinals of the Big East tournament Friday. Syracuse moves on to the championship game for a rematch of last year’s title game with Louisville, which beat Notre Dame 6-0 in the other semifinal.The Orange will take on the host Cardinals at Ulmer Stadium at 5 p.m. Saturday. The championship game will be televised on ESPN2.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe big first inning highlighted by the back-to-back triples proved to be the difference in the game. For Syracuse, playing with a lead the entire game was a nice change of pace after its dramatic last-inning comeback to beat Pittsburgh 2-1 in the first round of the tournament.‘It takes a lot of pressure off of you when you can just get on the board right away,’ SU head coach Leigh Ross said. ‘That was big right away with Steph (Watts) and Sai (Daniels) going back-to-back triples, it was huge.’The early lead was the only support junior pitcher Jenna Caira needed in the circle.Caira said after scouting DePaul Thursday, she and assistant coach Mike Bosch devised a plan. She wanted to set up the hitters with her rise ball and finish them off with her off-speed pitches.That strategy proved to be an effective one. Caira held DePaul to two hits and struck out seven in a complete-game shutout.DePaul threatened in the first inning with runners on first and second and no outs, but the SU ace worked out of the jam to keep the second-seeded Blue Demons off the board.The Blue Demons never got a better opportunity and couldn’t break through against Caira. She said getting out of that first inning was key for her team.‘First inning’s always tough, because you want to make sure the momentum is on our side,’ Caira said. ‘It was close.’Caira said she just tried to hit her spots in the first inning to get into the flow of the game. The Orange lineup then took the lead in the bottom half of the inning to give the team all the momentum early.SU held onto that advantage the rest of the way despite missed opportunities to add to its lead. The Orange had runners on second and third with no outs in the fifth inning, but the middle of the lineup couldn’t capitalize.Daniels struck out on a check swing. Lacey Kohl struck out swinging and then slammed her bat into the ground in frustration. Finally, Hallie Gibbs fouled out to the first baseman. But the frustrating sequence was neutralized by Caira’s dominance in the circle.Ross said with Caira, a two-run lead is safe more often than not. And that was true on Friday.‘You don’t want to just live on two runs, but games like this where it just so happened we scratched a couple together and that’s all we got for the rest of the game,’ Ross said. ‘It’s nice to know that you’ve got that pitcher on the mound that can hold a team.’Caira held on against the DePaul lineup for the final two innings after SU’s disappointing turn at the plate in the fifth. And after getting the final out, Caira pumped her fist and then jumped to hug catcher Ashley Dimon.The pitcher is excited for another shot at the championship but said Louisville will be a tough matchup. She said both teams know what to expect after playing each other four times during the regular season. And though it will be hard to beat a team for a fifth time in one season, Caira thinks SU can pull it off.‘We were called the Cinderella story last year, but I think we’ve proven to everyone again that we’re here for a reason,’ Caira said. ‘ … I honestly think like we can really do this, and I don’t have any doubt in my mind that we can take another championship.’[email protected]last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *