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AnnaMarie Gatti battles nerves, rough beginning in 1st career start as Orange falls to UNC in game 2

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first_imgAnnaMarie Gatti slowly shuffled back to the dugout from the circle. Her teammates, circled around her, tapped her glove as she walked away.Syracuse head coach Leigh Ross had just yanked Gatti from her first collegiate start.Syracuse (14-19, 1-7 Atlantic Coast) split a doubleheader with North Carolina (26-10, 10-3) on Friday, dropping the second contest 6-2 after a 4-2 win earlier in front of 184 fans at SU Softball Stadium. Gatti, a freshman who arrived at SU as a top 100 recruit, was only starting for the first time because of an ankle injury that hampered her earlier in the season and took the loss.Ross said Gatti felt nervous — the pitcher was about to face the best-hitting team in the ACC with the nation’s leader in home runs in the lineup — so her catcher, Julie Wambold, had tried to make sure her pitcher felt relaxed. But Gatti became antsy when the umpires didn’t return until nearly 15 minutes after the schedule start of the second game.Though Gatti’s night ended in the top of the sixth, it easily could’ve been over at the start.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I didn’t know if she was going to make it through the first inning,” Ross said. “I thought we were going to have to make the change and pull her out because she was a little too nervous.”The leadoff hitter belted a liner up the middle. After a bunt single and a walk, a wild pitch allowed a run to score. Gatti’s team already trailed 1-0 in the top of the first inning with no one out. She had yet to throw a strike that UNC hadn’t hit.After a mound visit, Gatti responded. A pop-out, a strikeout looking and a groundout to third got her out of the inning.“I knew I didn’t have my best stuff to beat them — they’re a very good team — but I had enough to give them a game,” Gatti said. “I threw against Fordham, which I think helped me a lot. That got the nerves out a little. But I was antsy — especially when the umpires (didn’t come).”After her rocky first inning, Gatti settled in. She got a double play in the second to help her out of a first-and-second situation and two more groundouts to escape the same scenario in the third.An RBI double to right-center field by Danielle Chitkowski tied up the ballgame at one for SU.Gatti then retired seven of eleven batters, painting the outside corner for strikeouts and weak groundballs, to get into the top of the sixth inning with a tie ballgame at one all.The field hockey team cheered on Gatti with “We are SU!” chants in the top of the sixth.But that was when things fell apart.A double and a poke into the outfield put runners at the corners for North Carolina. The UNC bench shouted as Gatti battled UNC’s Katie Causey for six pitches.On the seventh, Causey blooped it high and it fell just beyond the reaching arm of second baseman Sammy Fernandez and into the outfield grass.After a sacrifice bunt, passed ball and walk, Gatti’s day ended.She sat on the bench fidgeting with her glove, much like before the game.Before the game, when the umpires still hadn’t shown up, her teammates needled her about how anxious she was.“I was holding my glove and everyone was like, ‘What’re you doing?’” Gatti said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘I don’t really know how to do this yet.’”Clarification: In an earlier version of this story, the final quote from Syracuse pitcher AnnaMarie Gatti was out of context and her body language walking off the mound was misstated. They have since been corrected. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 3, 2015 at 10:06 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TRlast_img read more