Eagles Softball On 33-Game Winning Streak
by Matt Collver
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University softball team swept a doubleheader over Palm Beach Atlantic Friday evening. In game one, the Eagles used the mercy-rule to end the game in the bottom of the fifth inning by a score of 10-2. The Eagles took game two 1-0 to improve to 50-4 on the year. FGCU has now won 33 games in a row.
Junior Sarah Backe (Flossmoor, Ill.) pitched the first game for FGCU. Backe pitched a complete game to boost her record to 9-0 this season. She struck out four batters while only allowing three hits in five innings.
Palm Beach Atlantic put two runs on the board in the first inning to jump out to the early lead. The lead-off batter for the sailfish reached on an error by freshman third baseman, Cheyenne Jenks (Naples, Fla.). The next batter dropped a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second base. PBA’s Nikki Staten ripped an RBI triple giving the Sailfish the first run of the game. With Staten on third, the clean-up hitter singled to the right side making the score 2-0. That was all the scoring PBA would do as solid pitching by Backe blanked the Sailfish for the rest of the game.
FGCU cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first. Jenks started things out for the Eagles with a double to left field. Senior Christine Beck (Hudson, Fla.) drove in Jenks with a triple down the right field line. The next three Eagle batters were retired, ending the first inning.
In the top of the second, Backe struck out the side for the Eagles. Junior Rachel Homan (Vero Beach, Fla.) drew a walk to start out the bottom half of the inning. Homan then stole second base for her 30th steal of the season. Junior Natasha Johnson (Fort Pierce, Fla.) flied out to right field but the ball was hit hard enough to allow Homan to tag up and advance to third. With one out and a runner on third, sophomore Alicia Boyd (Naples, Fla.) stepped into the batter’s box. Boyd hit the ball to the third baseman who through her out at first. Homan was able to sprint across home plate on the third baseman’s throw. The run tied the game at 2-2.
The Eagles put three more runs on the board in the third. Jenks singled and Beck reached on an error by PBA’s shortstop. Junior slugger Jessica Rouse (Jacksonville, Fla.) crushed a three-run jack to left field giving the Eagles a 5-2 lead. Rouse now has 18 homers and 66 RBI on the year.
FGCU added five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The eight run lead implemented the mercy-rule ending the game after five. Beck started the inning with a walk. Then, Rouse singled to the left side. Freshman LeeAnne McDowell (Arcadia, Fla.) also drew a walk to load the bases for the Eagles. Sophomore Hillary Johnson (Fort Myers, Fla.) stepped in for FGCU. An error by the PBA second baseman scored Beck and allowed Johnson to reach first. The bases were still loaded when Homan doubled to left field scoring Rouse and pinch runner, sophomore Christa Piquette (Barrington, Rhode Island). Another error by the Sailfish advanced junior Natasha Johnson to first. Junior Roz Tyre (Lake City, Fla.) came into the game to pinch hit for Boyd. Tyre hit a 2 RBI single to left field to end the game as the Eagles took game one. Jenks and Rouse both went 2-for-3 in the game. Rouse knocked in three runs with her home run in the third inning. Tyre and Homan both had 2 RBI while Beck and Boyd both knocked in one run for the Eagles.
Freshman right-hander Dana Frantz (Brighton, MI) went the first 3 1/3 innings in the circle for FGCU, yielding six hits without a run, before giving way to sophomore Rachael Edinger (Lakeland, Fla.) pitched the final 3 2/3 innings , striking out five Sailfish for her 21st win of the year.
The Eagles scored the only run of the game in the second inning. Homan walked and then stole second base. An error by PBA’s second baseman scored Homan to give the Eagles the go-ahead run. FGCU threatened in the fourth when Hillary Johnson doubled to right center only to go to third when the right fielder had trouble corralling the ball. With two down, the Eagles were unable to bring Johnson in.
Neither team would score the rest of the game. With a one-run lead, solid relief pitching from Edinger gave the Eagles the victory in game two.
FGCU travels to Winter Park, Fla. Saturday for a doubleheader against South Region opponent Rollins beginning at 1:00 pm.