CLEARWATER, Fla. – The FGCU softball team lost a pair of one-run games on Friday, the first day of the Under Armour Invitational hosted by USF at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The Eagles lost to Penn State, 4-3, before falling to Fordham, 6-5. Lauran Ziegler was 4-for-8 with two runs scored in the two games.
Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) got the nod against Penn State, and, despite being hit on the leg by a line drive in the third inning, pitched a complete game. Breaux (3-4) allowed four runs (three earned) on 12 hits while striking out two.
The Nittany Lions (11-4) plated one run in each of the first three innings, taking a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the third. In the bottom of the third, Thursday’s hero, Erin Olson (Naples, Fla.), led off with a scorching double to center field. Two batters later, Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) reached on an infield single, with Olson moving to third. After Ziegler stole second, Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) hit a line drive that bounced off of the first baseman’s glove, allowing both runners to score.
The score remained 3-2 until the sixth inning, when both teams scored a run. After Penn State extended the lead to 4-2, the Eagles trimmed the lead back to one run in the bottom half of the inning. Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla.) led off with a walk, stole second, and advanced to third when the catcher’s throw bounced into the outfield. Two batters later, Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) singled up the middle, scoring Fernandez.
FGCU had an opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh after Ziegler and Gary led off the inning with back-to-back singles. But Jackie Hill was able to retire the next three batters on pop-ups, handing the Eagles a 4-3 loss.
In game one, Ziegler finished 3-for-4 with a run scored, while O’Mara was 1-for-2 with a run scored.
Against Fordham (8-3), Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) got the start, but would not factor in the decision. McDaniel pitched five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out five.
The Eagles (7-10) took an early 2-0 lead thanks to a towering two-run home run by Gary in the top of the first inning. Back-to-back extra-base hits by the Rams cut the lead in half (2-1) after one inning.
The Blue and Green extended the lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning. Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) doubled to lead off the inning, and Fernandez immediately followed by a double of her own, scoring Platt. After Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.) moved Fernandez over to third with a sac bunt, Fernandez was able to score after an illegal pitch was called on Chelsea Plimpton.
Fordham batted around in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four runs on five hits. The Rams began the inning stringing together four consecutive singles, leading to two runs. A sacrifice fly would score the third run, and an infield single plated the fourth run, giving Fordham a 5-4 lead after five innings.
FGCU would tie the game in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of an error to do so. Platt led off with a double to left center, one of just two hits the Eagles could muster against Jen Mineau, who pitched three innings of relief. Three batters later, O’Mara laced a single to left field. The left fielder bobbled the ball, allowing Platt just enough time to slide in ahead of the throw, tying the game at five.
The Rams responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth, despite hitting just one ball out of the infield. Nicole Callahan’s two-out single to shortstop scored Jamie LaBovick, giving Fordham a 6-5 lead.
The Eagles were given a temporary respite in the top of the seventh, in a very rare form. With two outs and a 1-2 count on Ziegler, all of the lights at the Eddie C. Moore Complex shut off. After approximately a 10-minute delay, the lights were restored, and Ziegler struck out swinging, ending the game.
Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla.) took the loss, dropping to 1-1 on the season. Sullivan pitched one inning in relief of McDaniel, allowing one run on three hits, walking one and striking out two.
In game two, Gary finished 1-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs, while Platt was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Eagles continue play in the Under Armour Invitational on Saturday, taking on Austin Peay at 3 p.m. before clashing with Villanova at 5 p.m.