CLEARWATER, Fla. – The FGCU softball team dropped both games on Sunday, the final day of the Wilson-DeMarini Tournament hosted by USF at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. Five errors cost the Eagles in a 7-5 loss to Illinois State, and the Blue and Green couldn’t bounce back in game two against No. 13 Georgia Tech, falling 10-5.
The day started well for the Eagles, as Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) smoked her second home run of the year in the bottom of the first inning to give FGCU a quick 2-0 lead over Illinois State. Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.) drove in a run with a base hit and Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla.) picked up an RBI on a bases loaded hit by pitch, putting the Blue and Green ahead 4-0 after one inning.
The Redbirds (2-2) came roaring back in the top of the third, taking advantage of some defensive miscues to score five runs and take the lead. Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) threw a wild pitch on the third strike to allow Jhavon Hamilton to reach first base leading off the inning. Four out of the next five hitters singled, scoring three runs. With two outs and runners on second and third, Upchurch threw wide of first base, allowing both runs to score, giving Illinois State a 5-4 lead after three innings.
Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) doubled home a run in the sixth inning, but the Redbirds added single runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, and Illinois State would hold on for a 7-5 win.
McDaniel took the loss, dropping her record to 1-1 on the season. Chrissy Burton, who came on in relief in the first inning, picked up the win for Illinois State, improving to 1-1 on the year.
In game two, the Eagles took on the only undefeated team in the tournament, the No. 13 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech had won all three games by a combined score of 15-0, including a 3-0 shutout of No. 3 Florida on Saturday.
The Eagles (2-2) quickly ended Georgia Tech’s shutout streak, putting a run on the board in the first inning. Freshman Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla.) stroked a single through the right side of the infield, driving in Platt to put FGCU ahead 1-0 in the top of the first.
The lead wouldn’t last long, as the Jackets’ Kristen Adkins knocked in a pair of runs with a two-out double in the bottom of the first, giving the Ramblin’ Wreck a 2-1 lead after one inning of play. Georgia Tech added three more runs in the second, taking a 5-1 lead.
Brittany Baker (Summerfield, Fla.) plated the second run for the Eagles with a one-out single in the fourth, scoring Fernandez, who had reached on an error earlier in the inning. But the Blue and Green would leave the bases loaded in the inning, three of the nine runners they left on throughout the game.
The Jackets (4-0) took advantage of a pair of walks in the bottom half of the fourth, scoring two runs in the frame, building the lead to 7-2 after four innings.
The Eagles didn’t let Georgia Tech run away with it, answering back with three runs in the top of the fifth. All three runs were unearned: Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) scored on a throwing error, Fernandez scored on a fielding error, and Upchurch scored on a wild pitch. Through four-and-a-half innings, Georgia Tech held a slim 7-5 lead.
Just as they did after FGCU scored in the first and fourth innings, Georgia Tech had an answer in the bottom of the fifth. Using an RBI single from Jen Lee and a two-run double from Kelsi Weseman, the Jackets matched the three runs that the Eagles scored in the top half of the inning, reestablishing a five-run lead. The Ramblin’ Wreck would go on to win, 10-5.
Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) took the loss, moving her record to 1-1. Adkins allowed just one earned run in 5.1 innings, picking up the win and improving to 1-0 on the season.
The Eagles will travel to Miami, Fla. next weekend for the FIU Blue and Gold Felsburg Memorial Tournament. FGCU will take on Wisconsin (noon) and Bethune-Cookman (2 p.m.) on Saturday, Feb. 20, and Long Island (1 p.m.) and Florida International (3 p.m.) on Sunday, Feb. 21.