AnnaMarie Gatti stood at the back of the circle and faced the outfield. She had just completed the second strikeout of the fourth inning and needed just one out to get out of a two-baserunner jam. She threw up two fingers.The ensuing groundout got SU out of trouble and contributed to the second shutout of her career in Syracuse’s (25-18, 7-11 Atlantic Coast) 2-0 win over NC State (22-24, 5-14). She struck out eight batters in seven innings, tying her career best. “I thought (Gatti and Romero) just competed,” head coach Mike Bosch said. “That’s the one thing I really saw out of both of them. They really went to batters and they took it kind of personally.”It was a continuation of Syracuse’s pitching dominant who won the first game of the doubleheader, 3-1, behind Alexa Romero’s career high 16 strikeouts. Syracuse got off to a quick start. An error in the first inning by third baseman Timberlyn Shurbutt on Hannah Dosset’s line drive scored freshman Miranda Hearn. But SU slowed afterwards. That was their only run until the sixth inning when a Michala Maciolek single scored Gabby Teran.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut the runs were on the board for SU, so it was up to Gatti to perform.The first batter she faced set the tone for the rest of the game. NC State center fielder Jade Caraway went out swinging, the first of many batters to do so.Gatti wasn’t aware she was close to a career high, she said. It wasn’t until after the game someone told her she struck out eight batters to tied her career best. Previously, she had only thrown that many against Savannah State during a tournament in February of 2017. It was the first time she reached that mark against a conference opponent. “I’m not a strikeout pitcher so like just to be able to get that amount of strikeouts against an ACC school is the biggest win for me,” Gatti said, “whether we would’ve won or not.”Gatti slowed a bit, starting the sixth inning by walking the first batter. She got behind on the next count and NC State’s Sam Russ stole second to get into scoring position with no outs.Maciolek, the catcher, approached the circle. She told Gatti to relax and reminded her that the team had her back. The next play, Gatti got a strikeout.“I think I would have been a little more worried if we would’ve gone 10 straight balls or something like that,” Bosch said, “but she came back with a good pitch, got a good strike.”Gatti also played a role fielding. Multiple batters hit the ball directly toward her. Each time she would pick the ball up, and do what associate head coach Alisa Goler calls her ‘sassy walk’. After picking the ball up, Gatti paused for a moment and watched the batter run to first before tossing the ball to the first baseman. “Gabby (Teran) told me she holds her breath every time,” Gatti said. But, this game, she completed the toss each time. It was her third complete game of the season as the regular season comes to a close, and the ACC Tournament awaits. “Anna did unbelievable. It was great catching her,” Maciolek said. “It was a lot of fun. She was hitting her spots, she was striking people out, it was great.” Comments Published on April 21, 2018 at 8:01 pm Contact Kaci: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+
“But I think there were chances where she hit shorter balls, but I wasn’t expecting her to hit the shorter balls, so I didn’t move up on time,” she said.In the semi-finals Williams will face Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who advanced when Wimbledon champion Simona Halep retired with Achilles tendon trouble after dropping their first set 6-4.“I’ve always wanted to play Serena,” said Bouzkova, a 21-year-old ranked 91st in the world. “It’s always my dream to play against her.”Bouzkova notched her third straight win over a Grand Slam champion, having beaten former US Open winner Sloane Stephens and former French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko.But Halep marked her first win over a top-five player.The Romanian, who roared back from 0-4 down to level the set at 4-4 only to lose the last two games, said she had been bothered by her Achilles tendon from the start of the tournament.“And today I felt it more, so that’s why I decided to retire,” said Halep, no doubt exercising extra caution with the final Grand Slam of the year due to start on August 26.Despite the defeat, Osaka is assured of a return to world number one next week after the second-round exit of top-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty and a quarter-final defeat for third-ranked Czech Karolina Pliskova.Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu ousted Pliskova 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 after one hour and 49 minutes to doom the Czech’s bid to regain the top spot for the first time since 2017.Andreescu advanced to a semi-final clash with American Sofia Kenin, who defeated Ukraine sixth seed Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.Share on: WhatsApp Getting there: American Serena Williams on the way to an emphatic straight-sets victory over Naomi Osaka in the quarter-finals of the WTA tournament in TorontoToronto, Canada | AFP | Serena Williams won the rematch Friday, dominating Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 to ensure the Japanese star won’t leave Toronto with a title to go with her number one world ranking.Williams fired 12 aces and didn’t face a break point as she beat Osaka for the first time in three meetings — avenging her shock loss in last year’s controversial US Open final in which the American star was docked a point and a game after losing her temper when warned about coaching.There was no such drama in Toronto, where Williams broke Osaka for a 5-3 lead in the first and closed out the opening set with a service winner.She broke again for a 2-1 lead in the second and never looked like surrendering the advantage.Even a run-in with the net cord — as she raced forward trying to run down a drop shot — didn’t faze her.“It hurt, but it wasn’t the end of the world,” Williams said.The American’s lone wobble came in the final game. After a pair of aces gave her a triple match point, Williams offered up a double fault and two backhands into the net before she closed it out with an ace on her fourth match point.“We haven’t played since New York, which was a really good match for her,” said Williams, adding that she feels her own game is coming on as she’d hoped in the buildup to this year’s US Open at Flushing Meadows.“I’m getting there,” said Williams, who hasn’t dropped a set this week as she pursues a fourth Toronto title to go with those she won in 2001, 2011 and 2013. “It’s definitely not where I want to be, but I’m getting there.”– Bouzkova books Serena ‘dream’ –Osaka said she played too defensively — something she said was hard to avoid when Williams was hitting 31 winners.