The Cardiac Kids Strike Again as Softball Walks off Winners Twice
Saturday, March 16, 2013 | by Andrew Piper (@ADPiper7)
FGCU swept the first two games against Stetson to start off A-Sun play 2-0. (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
FGCU swept the first two games against Stetson to start off A-Sun play 2-0. (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
Stetson (15-7, 0-1 A-Sun)
FGCU (18-9, 1-0 A-Sun)
3/16/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 68
Win: MORGAN (8-5) 7.084223
Loss: COCHRAN (0-2) 1.011111
DRURY (STET) 313000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team (19-9, 2-0 A-Sun) opened up conference play with a doubleheader against in-state rival Stetson and the Eagles were walk off winners in both games at the FGCU Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon.

“Today was a great day of softball and my team did a great job of overcoming adversity,” said head coach David Deiros. “They came back and showed a lot of character in both games and I am very proud of them.”

By recording two walk-off wins on the day against Stetson, by respective scores of 5-4 and 5-3 with one coming in nine innings, the Green and Blue have now won four straight, all of which in walk-off style. FGCU now leads the all-time series against Stetson 8-7 after taking two in the series opening twin billing. 

In the home half of the first in game one, Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS) singled to left on the first pitch she faced against Stetson starting pitcher Meredith Owen, who was 12-2 with a 1.28 ERA entering the contest. Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) followed with a double off the base of the wall in right center to put runners on second and third. With one out, Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring across Williams for the first run of the game, putting FGCU up 1-0.

Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS) got the start for the Eagles inside the circle and was firing away, as the 2012 A-Sun Pitcher of the Year retired eight straight Hatters to start the game.

Wanting to increase the lead with runners at the corners and two outs in the home half of the second, Tori Williams once again made an impact as she slapped a ball down the third base line and over the third baseman to bring across another run and put FGCU up 2-0.

Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) led off the bottom of the fourth inning by stroking a home run to make it 3-0 after the solo shot. With Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) on third and two outs, Williams recorded her third hit of the game to bring across another run and stretch the Eagle advantage to four.

Stetson’s Meredith Owen helped her own cause when she stepped to the plate in the top of the fifth inning and drove a ball over the right field wall for a solo shot that cut into the lead and made it 4-1.

As usual, the FGCU defense was solid and led by Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) as the Eagle shortstop was strong from her position, recording four assists and two putouts with many of them coming on bouncing balls that had her on the move.

With two outs in the top of the seventh and FGCU one out away from a game one victory, Stetson loaded the bases to bring the go ahead run to the plate. Morgan allowed a pitch to get away that hit a batter to reload the bases and bring the Hatters within two runs. The next batter that came to the plate and knocked in two runs to make it 4-4 send the game into the bottom of the seventh.

In need of a run to end the game and avoid extra innings, Kelsey Carpenter led off the bottom of the seventh for the Eagles. After fighting off pitches to start the at bat, Carpenter belted one over the fence in right center field to end the first game of the day and give FGCU a 5-4 walk-off win, its second in as many contests. The victory for the Green and Blue halted a nine-game winning streak that Stetson brought with them to Fort Myers.

Stetson hitters were already warmed up with a game under their belts and came out swinging at the start of game two against FGCU. Following a one out double, a Hatter batter sent a pitch out of the park to go up 2-0 at the end of one inning.

The Hatters would have runners reach base once again and brought across a run to stretch their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third, but could not bring across any additional runs despite having the bases loaded.

In need of some offense of their own, FGCU placed runners on first and second with Mariah Fernandez at the plate and one away in the bottom of the fourth inning. Fernandez singled to right field and advanced to second on an error to bring across the first Eagle run of the game to make the score 3-1 with Stetson still in the lead through four.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, the Green and Blue came within one run with a walk on the bases loaded to make the score 3-2.

The game turned to the bottom of the seventh and for the second time of the day, Kelsey Carpenter led off for the Green and Blue in the final half inning of regulation. After singling through the right side, Carpenter reached third after stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error. It was then up to Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) to tie the game and she did just that with a single into shallow center field to knot it at three runs apiece and send the game into extra innings.

With the same part of the order to bat in the bottom of the ninth in a 3-3 game, FGCU was in prime scoring position as a Kelsey Carpenter double lead off the inning. Chelsea Zgrabik had another shot to drive across a vital run for the Green and Blue and she seized the opportunity by driving a pitch over the FGCU Softball Complex fence to give the Eagles a 5-3 walk-off victory and to clinch the series victory for the Green and Blue. After dropping both games today, Stetson is now 0-6 all-time at the FGCU Softball Complex.

FGCU will face Stetson in the final game of the three-game set between the two teams on Sunday, March 17 at 2 p.m. from the FGCU Softball Complex.

In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.

For tickets, visit www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets online or call the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145. Tickets are also available for purchase upon entrance to the FGCU Softball Complex.