FORT MYERS, Fla. – Erin Olson’s walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the ninth lifted the FGCU softball team to a 4-3 win over Western Michigan on Thursday afternoon at the FGCU Softball Complex. With the win, the Eagles improve to 7-8 on the season.
Western Michigan (2-5) struck first, plating a run in the top of the first. Lexi Jager led off with a walk, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a passed ball.
Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla.) tied the game in the bottom of the second, driving home Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) with a double to the left-center field gap.
The Eagles took the lead in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a pair of Bronco miscues to score twice. Olson (Naples, Fla.) doubled to lead off the inning, and Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) followed with an infield single. Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners, but WMU’s Gracie Barstad threw the ball into left field, allowing Olson to score and Ziegler to advance to third base. Ziegler would score on a wild pitch soon after, giving FGCU a 3-1 lead.
The Broncos trimmed the deficit to one in the top of the sixth, using Jager’s speed once again. After reaching on an infield single, Jager advanced to second on a sac bunt. When Jager attempted to steal third, Brittany Baker (Summerfield, Fla.) threw wildly attempting to throw her out, allowing Jager to score.
Jenn Tschetter tied the game with two outs in the top of the seventh, singling home Sarah Thomas, who led off the inning with a double. The Eagles would be retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
After neither team put up a serious scoring threat in the eighth, the Eagles would finally push a run across in the bottom of the ninth. Fernandez drew a one-out walk and moved up to second on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt by Baker. With two outs, Olson hit a line drive that landed just inches inside the left field line, rolling far enough to allow Fernandez to score the game-winning run from second base.
Olson, who came into the game 1-for-12, was 2-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored, and an RBI. Fernandez finished 1-for-2 with two walks, a run scored, and an RBI.
Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla.) got the start, pitching six innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk, while striking out six. Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) got the win in relief, pitching three shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out one. McDaniel improved to 3-5 with the decision.
The Eagles will participate in the USF Under Armour Invitational in Clearwater this weekend, beginning with two games Friday night. FGCU will take on Penn State at 6 p.m. and Fordham at 8 p.m.