CLEARWATER, Fla. – The FGCU softball team opened the 2010 season with a pair of victories at USF’s Wilson-DeMarini Tournament at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. A two-run home run from Lauran Ziegler helped the Eagles defeat Canisius 6-3, and three Eagles homered in a 7-2 win over Long Island.
In game one, the Blue and Green jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. After Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) led off with a single, she stole second and advanced to third on an error. Three batters later, freshman Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla.) drove in the run with a ground ball to first base.
Lizzy Gatto walked to lead off the top of the second, and later scored on a passed ball, tying the game at one run apiece.
The Eagles regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a two-run home run by Ziegler. Following a one-out walk to Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla.), Ziegler turned on an inside pitch and drilled it over the right field fence, giving FGCU a 3-1 lead.
After the Golden Griffins (0-2) cut the lead to one run (3-2) in the top of the sixth, the Eagles answered back with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) ripped a two-run double to center field, scoring Ziegler and Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio). Later in the inning, Gary would score after being run into by the catcher during a rundown between third base and home plate.
Canisius scored a run with one out in the top of the seventh, but Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) shut down the rally to secure the 6-3 win for the Eagles.
McDaniel improved to 1-0 with a complete game, giving up three runs (two earned) on nine hits and four walks while striking out three. Ziegler finished 4-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored, two RBIs, and a stolen base. Gary was 3-for-3 with a double, walk, run scored, and two RBIs.
In the second game, the Eagles (2-0) showed off more of the power that Ziegler showed in the win over Canisius. FGCU got on the board first with a solo home run from freshman Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.) in the top of the second.
The score remained 1-0 until the top of the fifth, when the Blue and Green exploded for six runs. Yates led off the inning with her first collegiate home run, and two batters later, Gary sent one over the scoreboard in right center field, giving FGCU a 3-0 lead. Fernandez made it a 4-0 game with an RBI single scoring Platt.
Later in the inning, the Eagles pulled off one of the rarest plays possible in softball: they scored three runs on one sequence without putting the ball in play. With the bases loaded and Courtney Putnam (Bartow, Fla.) at the plate, Long Island pitcher Sarah Reynolds threw a wild pitch that went to the backstop. Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) scored from third on the wild pitch, but catcher Mariesha Marker threw the ball away, allowing Fernandez to score from second base. LIU shortstop Bianca Mejia tried to throw Fernandez out at the plate, but her throw sailed past the catcher, allowing Upchurch to score all the way from first base.
Long Island responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth, but Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) limited the damage and shut down the Blackbirds over the final two innings, giving the Eagles a 7-2 win.
Breaux, pitching her first game in an FGCU uniform, threw a complete game to improve to 1-0, allowing two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out eight. Upchurch, Fernandez, and Gary each recorded two hits, while Gary, Fernandez, and Yates all hit their first home runs of the season.
The Eagles wrap up the Wilson-DeMarini tournament with a pair of games tomorrow. FGCU will take on Illinois State at 11 a.m. before encountering No. 13 Georgia Tech at 1:30 p.m.