They Took Two: Softball Sweeps Twin Billing with A-Sun Leader USC Upstate
|Win: OWEN (8-6)||5.0||6||2||2||1||1|
|Loss: ALEXANDER (15-3)||3.1||6||3||3||1||0|
|Win: JOSIE (11-3)||7.0||3||1||1||0||1|
|Loss: UJVARI (16-2)||6.0||6||3||3||0||5|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – With the 2013 regular season winding down and teams looking to be clicking on all cylinders, the FGCU softball team (32-15, 13-6 A-Sun) swept its pair of contests with Atlantic Sun standings leader USC Upstate (36-7, 16-5 A-Sun) in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at the FGCU Softball Complex.
FGCU overcame multiple rain delays in game one to win 10-2 in five innings with the help of a seven-run fifth inning, before using a solid defensive effort to take game two by a score of 3-1. The pair of victories keeps the Eagles on their win streak that is now at five games.
“They were two great wins and it was an all-around team effort,” said head coach David Deiros. “We had contributions from our offense, we played stellar defense and our pitching was unbelievable today. Both of our pitchers did a great job, Jackie (Owen) in the first game basically made sure they earned everything they got and Amanda (Josie) was in complete control all day long and that is a great effort by her.”
Bringing its high-powered offense to southwest Florida, the visiting Spartans used a lead-off home run to jump out front 1-0 in the top of the first of game one.
FGCU came to play and showed it in the home half of the second as the Eagles looked to draw even with USC Upstate. With runners on second and third and one away in the home half of the second, junior Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) stroked a ball to left center field for a stand-up double, driving in two runs and putting the Green and Blue up 2-1 at the end of two innings.
In the top of the third, USC Upstate’s Meredith Barnes stepped to the plate and drove a ball through the right side of the infield. The combination of a speedy Barnes and the ball taking an unusual bounce, Barnes was able to come all the way around for her second home run of the day, this one being of the inside the park variety.
Looking to jump out front on their home field, the Eagles created some offense in the bottom of the fourth with one out. A double to right center from junior Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) put a runner in scoring position with Garabedian coming to the dish. Garabedian delivered for FGCU with a double of her own, also to right center, to drive in Bembnowski for her third RBI of the day to give the Eagles a 3-2 advantage.
Junior transfer Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Dayton State College) excelled from inside the circle through her five innings against a USC Upstate batting order that leads the A-Sun in batting average, slugging percentage and numerous other offensive categories. Owen allowed just two runs and six hits through five innings of work in her gem of an outing.
After a rain delay with one out and runners on first and second, FGCU retook the field with intentions of extending its lead. After an Eagle batter was retired, Garabedian stepped to the dish with the bases now loaded and recorded her fourth RBI of the day by reaching first base on a four-pitch walk. Then the offensive floodgates opened for the Green and Blue. Freshman Alexis “Louie” Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida S. Baker HS) entered as a pinch hitter and struck a shallow single to bring across two more FGCU runners, making it 6-2.
Still with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Eagles kept their foot on the gas. Junior outfielder Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) dug in and doubled to left field to bring in the seventh FGCU run of the game. With the bases having been reloaded, junior catcher and 2013 A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) singled through the right side of the infield to bring across two more runs and put the Spartans on the verge of defeat. As the FGCU Softball Complex scoreboard read 9-2 in favor of the host Eagles, sophomore slugger Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) used her speed to reach on an infield single while driving in run number 10.
By bringing across the 10th run of the contest, Carpenter helped lift FGCU to a 10-2 game one win in five innings by meeting the eight run mercy rule. The final run of the game capped off a seven-run fifth inning for the Eagles that catapulted them to a statement win against the Spartans who sat alone atop the A-Sun standings entering the day.
Just as they did in the first game of the day’s doubleheader, the Spartans brought across an early run, this time using small ball to get a 1-0 advantage in the second inning of game two.
FGCU would not trail for long as the Green and Blue capitalized on a double from Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla/North Fort Myers HS) when Garabedian followed Fernandez with a double of her own to knot the game at one run a piece through two innings of play.
Junior Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) got the start from inside the circle for the Eagles in game two and the Estero, Fla. product excelled against an offensive-heavy lineup that USC Upstate has boasted all season long.
In an effort to avoid the need for late-game heroics and leaving a chance for a slip up, FGCU looked to break the 1-1 tie in the home half of the sixth. Zgrabik began the rally by singling to right center to put an Eagle runner aboard with one out. With senior Kayla Ramey (Fort Myers, Fla./Seminole State College) in to pinch run for Zgrabik, Carpenter roped a ball to deep left field for a stand up double, placing runners on second and third.
The Eagle batting order was just warming up as junior Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) laid down a perfect bunt for the squeeze to bring Ramey home safely and allow Lanier to reach base as FGCU took a 2-1 lead. Having coming back from a deficit on multiple occasions this season, FGCU was well aware that there is no such thing as too many insurance runs as a sacrifice fly from Fernandez brought Carpenter home safely, stretching the lead to 3-1.
Just as she had done through the first six innings of her outing, Josie kept USC Upstate in check in the top of the seventh to retire the Spartan lineup in order and with ease on three straight groundouts to record the complete-game victory with FGCU taking game two, 3-1, to sweep the pair of contests on the day.
The Eagles and Spartans have now squared off 12 times in the history of the two programs and with FGCU having swept the day’s doubleheader, the Green and Blue now lead the all-time series 7-5. The Eagles have won five of the last six meetings between the two teams, dating back to the 2011 season and FGCU is 7-0 against the Spartans when they face-off at the FGCU Softball Complex.
The three-game series between the Eagles and Spartans will wrap up on Sunday, April 21 with first pitch set for 1 p.m. from the FGCU Softball Complex as the Green and Blue will go for the sweep. If FGCU takes the third game of the series with USC Upstate, the Eagles will clinch a spot in the 2013 Atlantic Sun Tournament.
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.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
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