Eagles Lose Extra-Inning Heartbreaker to FIU, 6-5
Sunday, February 21, 2010

MIAMI, Fla. – The FGCU softball let a late lead slip away in a 6-5, eight-inning loss to FIU in the final game of the Blue and Gold Felsburg Memorial Tournament hosted by FIU. The Eagles lost to Long Island University, 4-1, earlier in the day. With the losses, the Blue and Green fall to 2-6 on the season.

In game one, Long Island (6-4) took advantage of a wild pitch in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead. The Eagles responded with a run in the bottom of the frame, as Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) doubled home Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) to tie the game at one apiece.

The Blackbirds quickly regained the lead, using a pair of infield singles to score a run in the top of the fourth, taking a 2-1 lead. Long Island played small ball again in the sixth, utilizing three bunts to score a pair of runs, extending the lead to 4-1. The Eagles couldn’t mount a comeback, falling by a score of 4-1.

Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) took the loss, dropping to 1-3 on the year. McDaniel allowed four runs (three earned) on 11 hits in six innings, striking out one and walking none.

Ziegler finished game one 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, while Gary was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

In game two, a four-pitch walk to the leadoff hitter would lead to a run as FIU (8-2) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

The Blue and Green bounced back with a pair of runs in the second inning, taking a 2-1 lead. Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.) singled to start the inning and would later score on a wild pitch. Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) doubled to the wall in left-center and would come around to score on a sacrifice fly from Courtney Putnam (Bartow, Fla.).

The Eagles added two more runs in the third, extending the lead to 4-1. After Ziegler opened the frame with a perfect bunt single, Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) jacked a two-run shot over the left field fence, her first home run of the season.

FGCU would hold on to a three-run advantage until the sixth inning, when the Golden Panthers offense came alive. FIU would pound out four hits in the inning, three of them doubles, scoring three runs to tie the game at four.

A scoreless seventh inning meant the Eagles would play their second extra-inning game in as many days.

The tournament rules dictated that the international tiebreaker be used beginning in the eighth inning, unlike most regular season game where the tiebreaker is not used until the 10th inning.

Ziegler had made the final out in the seventh, so she was placed on second base to begin the eighth inning. Gary drove her in immediately, aided by a fielding error by FIU’s second baseman, Brie Rojas. But after Platt singled to put runners on first and second with nobody out, the Eagles were unable to score any further, taking a 5-4 lead to the bottom of the 10th.

After Lauren Spiers was placed on second, as per the tiebreak rules, Morgan Huling laid down a sacrifice bunt to move her to third. Beth Peller followed with a bunt for a base hit, and advanced to second on the play when nobody covered second base. Kayla Burri singled up the middle on the very next pitch, scoring both runs, and giving FIU a 6-5 victory.

Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla.) made her first start of the year, and ended up with a no decision. Sullivan allowed three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings, walking three and striking out one. Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) came on in relief and took the loss, falling to 1-3 on the season. Breaux allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits in two innings of work, picking up no walks or strikeouts.

Ziegler finished game two 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Platt was 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs, a walk, and a stolen base.

The Eagles will play their first home games of the 2010 season this week when they host the FGCU Spring Break Tournament. The tournament field includes Minnesota, Connecticut, Villanova, Eastern Michigan, St. Francis (PA), and FGCU. The opening game of the 17-game tournament features the Eagles against Minnesota on Thursday, Feb. 25. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at the FGCU Softball Complex.