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FGCU Softball Sweeps A-Sun Newcomer NKU in “Hit Pink” Doubleheader
Saturday, April 27, 2013 | by Andrew Piper (@ADPiper7)
FGCU will look to close out its 2013 home season with a win on Sunday, April 28. (Photo by Miguel Fernandez)
FGCU will look to close out its 2013 home season with a win on Sunday, April 28. (Photo by Miguel Fernandez)
Northern Kentucky (11-36, 5-17 A-Sun)
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FGCU (33-16, 14-7 A-Sun)
4/27/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 104
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Northern Kentucky00000000020
FGCU00000002252
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: OWEN (10-6) 8.020036
Loss: SCHWAEBLE (5-20) 7.152203
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
VANHORN (NKU) 201010
CARSON (NKU) 201000
FERNANDEZ (FGCU) 312000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – In its final home series of the 2013 season, the FGCU softball team (34-16, 15-7 A-Sun) swept its doubleheader with Atlantic Sun newcomer Northern Kentucky (11-37, 5-18 A-Sun) in a pair of thrilling, walk-off contests at the FGCU Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon.

FGCU pulled out a pair of walk-off wins in two low-scoring contests on Saturday afternoon as the Eagles took game one 2-0 in eight innings before winning 4-3 in game two. The pair of wins gives FGCU the series victory as the Green and Blue have won six of its eight A-Sun series so far this season.

“Two big wins and the kids did a nice job of hanging in there,” said head coach David Deiros. “The offense really wasn’t clicking entirely today, but we made sure to give ourselves some chances to win so I am very happy with the results today.”

On its annual “Hit Pink” day, FGCU donned its pink uniforms in both of the day’s games in support of breast cancer awareness. Junior transfer Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Dayton State College) got the start from inside the circle in game one and was successful against Northern Kentucky batters as Owen kept the Norse hitless through the game’s first 3.1 innings.

NKU starting pitcher Emily Schwaeble entered the contest second in the A-Sun in strikeouts (151) and found success against Eagle batters early on. Schwaeble and Owen combined to allow three hits and collect four strikeouts through the first four innings of play to keep the game in a scoreless deadlock.

Offensive opportunities were tough to come by for both squads as opposing pitchers continued to duel into the sixth inning of the day’s first contest. Owen kept the NKU batting order guessing as the Cape Coral, Fla. native struck out four and surrendered just two hits against 25 batters faced through six innings of work.

With the two sides still scoreless as the game turned to the seventh inning, Owen remained in the circle and remained solid just as she had through the first six innings of game one to keep the Norse off the scoreboard.

As neither team was able to bring a runner across in the seventh, FGCU and NKU headed into the eighth inning of a scoreless affair as the batting order of both teams looked to create an offensive threat.

An infield single from Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla/North Fort Myers HS) lead off the home half of the eighth for FGCU and a stolen base had the Eagles in prime scoring position. With one out and in need of a clutch hit, junior Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) stepped into the batter’s box and drove a pitch down the left field line and inside the foul pole for a two-run walk-off homerun to catapult the Eagles to a 2-0 win in eight innings.

Owen finished with an impressive stat line in her two-hit shutout victory while striking out six in eight innings of work from inside the circle for FGCU.

In the second game of the twin billing, junior Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) got the start from inside the circle for the Green and Blue.

FGCU jumped out in front early in game two as a base hit from sophomore outfielder Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) drove in junior Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) for the first run of game two, putting the Eagles on top 1-0.

The visiting Norse would soon answer as a single up the middle in the next half inning knotted the game at one run apiece.

Looking to capitalize on scoring opportunities in game two with chances having been rather scarce in game one, the Green and Blue took advantage in the home half of the second inning. With game one hero Garabedian on second base, junior shortstop Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) drove a ball through the infield to score Garabedian and make it 2-1 in favor of FGCU. With Knapik on second, Barnes beat out and infield single to advance Knapik with an errant throw to first base having been enough for Knapik to safely reach home and extend it to 3-1 for the Eagles.

Proving it can hang with the best of the A-Sun despite being in its first season of Division I play, Northern Kentucky displayed resiliency in the top of the fifth. The Norse strung together three hits and scored two runs with alert base running to draw even with FGCU 3-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

With the starting pitchers of both squads having settled down, the score would remain low and even despite offensive opportunities for both sides.

Finding themselves in another spot for a walk-off win, the Eagles did not need much time in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman Makensie McAvoy (Plant City, Fla./Plant City HS) reached base on a walk as a pinch hitter to lead off the home half of the seventh and after stealing second base, FGCU was in business with a scoring opportunity. It was then time for freshman Alexis “Louie” Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida S. Baker HS) to enter as a pinch hitter with one away and McAvoy on third base after a sacrifice bunt from Barnes. With the NKU infield playing shallow for the chance to get the out at the plate, Ross delivered with a single up the middle to score McAvoy and lift FGCU to a 4-3 walk-off win and the twin billing sweep.

After the pair of victories, FGCU is now 21-7 at home this season with the Eagles having reached the 20-win plateau for the fifth time in program history, the second time in FGCU’s Division I tenure and the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Saturday sweep also clinches a winning A-Sun record for the Green and Blue in its sixth season as a member of the A-Sun, FGCU has finished with a winning record in league play in all six seasons.

With game one of the day’s twin billing serving as the first all-time meeting between FGCU and NKU, the Eagles now lead the all-time series 2-0 after having won both of the day’s contests.

The three-game set between the Eagles and Norse will conclude on Sunday, April 28 at 1 p.m. and will be the final home game of the 2013 season for the Green and Blue. Sunday will also serve as senior day as Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS), Kayla Gabel (Lakeland, Fla./State College of Florida) and Kayla Ramey (Fort Myers, Fla./Seminole State College) will be recognized pre-game in their final home game at the FGCU Softball Complex.

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.