Florida Gulf Coast
(27-13, 8-4 A-Sun)
(24-14, 8-8 A-Sun)
4/9/2013 | Kennesaw, Ga. | Attendance: 317
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Florida Gulf Coast
(27-14, 8-5 A-Sun)
(25-14, 9-8 A-Sun)
4/9/2013 | Kennesaw, Ga. | Attendance: 317
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KENNESAW, Ga. – In a matchup that served as a rematch of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship, the FGCU softball team (27-14, 8-5 A-Sun) split its series opening doubleheader with Kennesaw State (25-14, 9-8 A-Sun) on Tuesday at Bailey Softball Complex.
With both teams looking to take down the opposition after their last meeting having come with an NCAA Tournament berth at stake, the Eagles came out strong to take game one 11-3 in five innings by mercy rule, before falling to the Owls 4-1 in the second game of the day.
“We played two great games today,” said FGCU head coach David Deiros. “We battled hard, but we still have some work to do. We are excited to bring some energy with us to the game tomorrow.”
In the first game of the twin billing, FGCU faced Kennesaw State ace Amanda Henderson who entered the contest with a 1.03 ERA and a 14-2 record in 122.2 innings pitched. The FGCU batters put pressure on Henderson from the start as the Eagle offense went to work in the second inning. With Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) having reached on a leadoff single, 2013 Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team selection Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) connected with a pitch on a 1-2 count for a two-run home run to left center.
With one out and Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) on first courtesy of a four pitch walk, A-Sun Player of the Week Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) added a long ball of her own to double the FGCU advantage, making it 4-0 heading into the bottom of the second.
Kennesaw State worked to chip away at the four-run deficit in the home half of the third as the Owls used a solo home run to collect their first run of the game, with the score 4-1 through three innings of play.
Stepping to the plate for her second at bat of the day, Barnes drove a pitch to left and out of Bailey Park with a runner on base to make it 6-1 in the top of the fourth and make her case to be named A-Sun Player of the Week for the second straight week.
With runners in scoring position in the home half of the fourth, starting pitcher Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) found herself in the first scoring threat of the game from the Owls. After a single through the middle and a double to left, Kennesaw State brought two runs across to make it 6-3 with FGCU still in the lead. Josie settled down and used her defense to halt the scoring threat and get out of the fourth inning.
After allowing six runs in four innings of work, Kennesaw State starter Henderson, a three-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week recipient this season (Feb. 11, Feb. 18 and Mar. 18), was removed from the circle before the fifth inning got underway.
FGCU quickly adjusted to the Kennesaw State relief pitcher as three of the first four Eagle batters reached base and a single from Fernandez brought Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) in from second base, resulting in a 7-3 score.
The Eagles would capitalize on a two-out fielding error to extend the fifth inning on a dropped infield fly and mishandled slap hit to combine for five runs on three hits with FGCU leading 11-3 and its eight-run advantage placing them three outs away from a run rule victory.
Junior transfer Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) entered in relief of Josie after tossing a solid six innings with Owen looking to secure the win for FGCU. Allowing just one Owl runner to reach base in the seventh, Owen made quick work of Kennesaw State batters to win 11-3 in five innings by a mercy rule victory.
Looking to complete the twin billing sweep, Jackie Owen got the game ball to start game two for FGCU after having tossed a strong seventh inning to close out game one.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Kennesaw State used a shallow single into left center to bring across two runs and take a 2-0 lead while breaking the scoreless tie.
Looking to add to its lead in the bottom of the third, a leadoff home run extended the Owls lead to 3-0 as timely hitting was on the side of the home team once again in game two as Kennesaw State plated another runner to take a 4-0 edge into the top of the fourth.
On multiple occasions, starting pitcher Amanda Henderson flirted with danger as FGCU placed a number of runners on base, but through the first six innings Henderson was able to escape unharmed time and time again to the dismay of the Eagles.
In the top of the seventh and trailing on the road, FGCU looked to put an offensive threat together. Once Jessica Barnes worked Henderson for a walk, Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS) came around for a bunt and reached base safely for an infield single. Once the runners advanced on a wild pitch in the dirt, Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) faced a full count and took an inside pitch to load the bases.
Carpenter then dug into the right-handed batter’s box as the game-tying run and collected a sacrifice fly by bringing Barnes across and pulling within three runs to make it a 4-1 ball game. The Kennesaw State defense once again did not break despite heavy pressure from the FGCU bats as they collected the final out of the game to secure the 4-1 victory and garner a split in the doubleheader.
At the conclusion of the twin billing to start the series, the Eagles and Owls have now met a total of 13 times in their all-time history, with FGCU leading 10-3.
The Eagles and Owls will complete their trio of contests on Wednesday, April 10 with game time set for 3 p.m. from Bailey Softball Complex. With the two sides having split the first two contests, the final game will serve as the rubber match with the winner to also claim the series victory.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.