No. 6 Stetson Uses Offensive Barrage to Down No. 3 FGCU in A-Sun Tournament Opener
|Florida Gulf Coast||2||0||2||0||2||0||0||6||12||4|
|Win: OWEN (22-8)||7.0||12||6||4||1||6|
|Loss: OWEN (12-7)||2.0||3||7||6||3||1|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In the first game of the 2013 Atlantic Sun tournament, the No. 3 FGCU softball team (35-17, 16-7 A-Sun) fell, 14-6, to in-state rival and No. 6 Stetson in it’s A-Sun tournament opener on Wednesday afternoon at Draper Diamond, home of the Lipscomb Bisons.
In a contest that saw a plethora of runs scored and multiple A-Sun tournament offensive records fall, the Hatters got the best of the Eagles after jumping ahead from the start and never looking back.
“Congratulations to Stetson today’s victory,” said head coach David Deiros. “We dug ourselves a hole, but we have the talent and resolve to work our way out of it.”
With runners on first and second in the top half of the first inning and two outs, Stetson struck first against FGCU with a long ball to left center field to clear the bases and take an early 3-0 lead.
Looking to get back into the game after falling behind early, Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) led off the bottom of the first and reached on a hit by pitch. After stealing second base and advancing to third on a groundout, Barnes was in prime position to score the first run of the game for the Green and Blue. With one away, A-Sun second team selection Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) drove a pitch over the Stetson right fielder for a triple to drive in Barnes and make it a 3-1 ball game.
FGCU was not done closing the gap and with runners on the corners, a single through the right side of the infield from Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) scored Carpenter from third to draw within one run of the Hatters, 3-2, at the end of one inning of play.
After a quiet second inning, the game picked back up in the third. Stetson loaded the bases against FGCU starting pitcher Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) courtesy of a fielding error and two walks to start off the inning. A hit batter brought across a Hatter run, reloading the bases, to give Stetson a 4-2 edge.
Stetson continued to get the best of Owen as a double down the right field line scored two Hatter runners, putting FGCU in a 6-2 hole. The damage done by the Stetson batting order was enough to force a pitching change as junior Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) entered in relief of Owen. A single through the left side scored another Hatter base runner, pushing the Stetson lead to 7-2 heading into the bottom of the third.
Facing a five-run deficit, the Eagles looked to chip away at the deficit as they stepped to the plate in the home half of the third inning. Back at the plate after tripling on her first at bat, Carpenter led off the half inning by reaching second on a fielding error by the Stetson left fielder. Fernandez came to the dish with Carpenter on second base and one out, and the senior outfielder delivered for FGCU by striking a stand-up triple to right field to score Carpenter.
The triple from Fernandez, which was the second of the game for FGCU, tied an A-Sun Softball Championship record for triples in a game that was set in 1998.
Junior Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) came through for the Green and Blue with a sacrifice fly to score Fernandez and cap a two-run inning for FGCU, drawing the Eagles closer to the Hatters with the Draper Diamond scoreboard reading 7-4 in favor of Stetson through three innings.
FGCU seemed like it would be able to make quick work of the Hatters in the top of the fourth after retiring the first two batters, but a pair of base on balls and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Stetson. An infield single through the left side allowed Stetson to bring another run across and go up 8-4 over the 2012 A-Sun Champion Eagles.
The Hatters would continue to extend their lead over the Eagles and would do so in the top of the fifth inning. A sacrifice fly out and a pair of FGCU fielding errors would allow Stetson to score three runs and make it 11-4.
Facing a seven-run deficit, its largest of the day, FGCU would not waver as junior Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) sent a pitch over the wall in center field with a runner on base to score two and draw within five runs as the Eagles trailed 11-6.
Looking to keep a sizeable lead over an FGCU squad that is known for its offensive firepower and resilient demeanor, the Hatters came out swinging in the sixth inning and it worked to their advantage as they scored their 12th run of the contest to lead 12-6.
In an effort to extend their lead and add insurance runs, Stetson used a home run to left field with a runner aboard to push the score to 14-6 in the top of the seventh.
Stetson starting pitcher and A-Sun second team selection Meredith Owen remained locked in against the FGCU batting order despite allowing six runs to collect the complete game victory over the Eagles with the help of an immense amount of run support from the Hatter batting order. Owen finished with six strikeouts in seven innings pitched while allowing four earned runs.
The combined 20 runs between the two sides set an A-Sun tournament record for most combined runs scored in a game. The previous record was 17 runs which was set in 1990 and tied in 1993.
FGCU and Stetson have met a total of 17 times in the history of the programs with the Eagles clinging to a 9-8 series lead in those contests after falling to the Hatters on Wednesday afternoon. The Stetson victory snapped a five game win streak the Green and Blue had against the Hatters dating back to the 2012 season.
The Green and Blue will face the loser between No. 4 Lipscomb and No. 5 Kennesaw State in an elimination game on Thursday, May 9 at 4 p.m. EST from Draper Diamond.
The game for the Eagles can be viewed live and free of charge on ASun.TV with tickets still available for purchase ($10 for daily admission and $25 for a tournament pass).
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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