Rookie Shanna Christian pitched the Princeton softball team to a 4-1 victory over Villanova at the Class of 1895 Field Tuesday afternoon as the Tigers entertained a Big East foe before returning to Ivy play this weekend.
Christian's debut on Princeton's (18-9) home field saw her give up nine hits, but all were singles and none came after the fourth inning as Christian sat down the last 12 Wildcats she faced.
Villanova's (12-17) only run came in the third inning and halved the Princeton lead to 2-1. On the second of back-to-back two-out singles, the Wildcats' Amanda Marquez picked up a leadoff single by Aly Lowe, but Villanova was shut out from there. Christian (5-3) gave up two singles to start the fourth but left them at second and third base.
Princeton tagged Villanova freshman Kate Poppe (12-10), the Wildcats' most-used pitcher, for five hits and four walks, striking out seven times. Alex Peyton got Princeton on the board with her sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to lead off the second, and Maddie Cousens picked up Candy Button for an RBI single later in the inning to put Princeton up 2-1.
After Villanova halved the lead, Princeton got one back in the bottom of the third, using some crafty baserunning to score Lizzy Pierce on a sequence that began with a Peyton flyout. While Alyssa Schmidt stayed alive in a rundown between first and second, Pierce snuck home to make it a 3-1 Tiger lead in the third.
Princeton's last run came in the sixth. A leadoff walk to Pierce became costly for Poppe when Nikki Chu drove her home with a two-out single, giving the Tigers the final 4-1 margin.
Princeton, which stands tied atop the Ivy South division at 3-1 in league play, will head to Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday in a return to Ivy action.
• It was Princeton's first win over Villanova at the Class of 1895 Field since 2001. The Wildcats visited in 2003, 2005 and 2007, sweeping twinbills the last two times and getting a win and a tie against Princeton in 2003.
• Villanova was Princeton's third Big East opponent of the season. The Tigers came up just short in three games against opponents from that conference, losing by one or two runs each time against Seton Hall and twice against Georgetown. The Tigers will have one last Big East foe this regular season when they head to Rutgers for a single game on Apr. 11.
• Princeton's 18-9 record is its best through 27 games since the Tigers were also 18-9 in 2006.
• With her sixth home run of the season, Alex Peyton moved within one home run of becoming the eighth Tiger to hit 20 career home runs.
• Shanna Christian moved to 5-3 with the win, making her the third Tiger pitcher along with senior teammates Liza Kuhn and Alex Peyton to currently stand with a 5-3 win-loss record.