Watson, Daniels shine against Virginia Tech to close out regular-season careers with strong performances

first_img Published on April 27, 2014 at 7:41 pm Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman The last home games for Syracuse seniors Jasmine Watson and Shirley Daniels were microcosms of their four-year softball careers.Watson hit a go-ahead grand slam on Senior Day on Sunday after Daniels sparkled with her glove in SU’s game one victory on Saturday as the Orange (24-24, 12-12 Atlantic Coast) took two of three games — 5-4, 0-10, 7-3 — from Virginia Tech (32-20, 19-9) this weekend.“When you walk away from the field for the last time like they are,”  SU head coach Leigh Ross said, “you just have to know that you gave it your all. They both did a great job of that today and were fighting for us from the first inning on.”In the first inning of Sunday’s 7-3 victory against the Hokies, Daniels immediately gave Syracuse momentum, utilizing her greatest tool as a player — speed.As the pitch to Daniels, the leadoff hitter, was thrown, she squared her bat around and laid down a bunt precisely between the incoming third baseman and the pitcher to reach base safely.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLike she has done so many times in her career, Daniels took it upon herself to be the catalyst for SU’s lineup.“The bunt was my call,” Daniels said. “I could tell they weren’t really expecting me to do it so I thought I’d try and use my speed.”On Saturday, Daniels’ speed was essential to what she called the greatest catch she’s ever made.With one out in the top of the seventh inning and the go-ahead run at second base in a 3-3 game, Hokies second baseman Kylie McGoldrick blooped a ball into left-center field. A sprinting Daniels went into a full-extension dive to pluck the ball out of the air just inches from the ground.She sprung back to her feet and doubled off the Virginia Tech runner at second base, who wrongly assumed the ball would drop.“She’s made quite a few amazing catches here,” Ross said, “but that one might be the best.”Daniels’ speed allows her to be a consistent run-scorer. She scored only once on Sunday, but did so with three of her teammates after a grand slam from Jasmine Watson.Watson struck out on a high fastball in the first inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out in her second at-bat, she simply looked to put the ball in play.She did so in a big way, slapping an opposite-field grand slam that tucked just behind the right-field wall.Watson said her mindset has never been to hit the ball out of the park, just to come in with a better approach after learning from her previous at-bats.“I actually thought the ball was just going to go foul,” Watson said. “I just prayed that it would stay fair the whole way, and it worked out perfect.”She raised her fist as she rounded first base with a mile-wide smile, and almost passed shortstop Corinne Ozanne, who was rounding the bases in front of her.Her 16th home run of the season turned out to be an historic one, tying her with Hallie Gibbs for the most single-season home runs in program history.Watson said she was happy to leave her mark on the program, but the non-stop worker noted there are still important games left to be played for her team.Both Daniels and Watson were imperative figures for SU taking two-of-three games from the second-best team in the ACC, just as the duo has been imperative to the success of the Orange for four years.They both left their marks in the record book, this season and this series. Ross said while the two will sorely be missed, the future is bright all-around.“It’s so hard to see them go,” Ross said. “But it’s also really cool, because you can see how much they’ve grown.“This is only the beginning for them.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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