FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team kicked off the conference portion of the 2010 schedule in dramatic fashion, sweeping a doubleheader against Kennesaw State with a pair of walk-off wins. Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) was the hero in both games, doubling home the game-winner in game one and capping the night with a two-run walk-off home run in the second game.
With the wins, the Eagles even their overall record at 11-11 and improve to 2-0 in the A-Sun. The Owls drop to 12-7 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
In the third inning of game one, Kennesaw State’s Ashley Burkett connected for a three-run home run down the left field line that put the Owls in front, 3-0.
After leaving eight runners on base through the first five innings, the Eagles finally got on the board in the sixth inning. Two walks and a Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.) single loaded the bases with nobody out. Two batters later, Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) drew a walk that scored Upchurch. Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) grounded into what should have been a double play ball, but the first baseman dropped the throw, allowing Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla.) to score. FGCU would leave the bases loaded, trailing 3-2 after six innings.
The Blue and Green caught a huge break in the bottom of the seventh when Upchurch’s fly ball was dropped by Lyndsay McCurry, setting up runners on second and third with one out. Erin Olson (Naples, Fla.) hit a sac fly to center field, scoring Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) with the tying run. The Eagles left Upchurch at second base, sending FGCU into extra innings for the fourth time this season.
After the Owls were set down in order in the top of the eighth, the Eagles were again handed a golden opportunity in the bottom of the eighth. Ziegler led off with an infield single, followed by a fly ball off the bat of Gary that was dropped by Kelsey Kulk, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) stepped up and drilled one over the center fielder’s head, easily scoring Ziegler with the game-winning run.
Platt finished game one 2-for-3 with a double, triple, and one RBI, while Upchurch was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) pitched all eight innings, picking up the win to even her record at 5-5 on the year. McDaniel allowed three runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out five.
In game two, KSU again took an early lead, this time scoring once in the top of the first. But FGCU would quickly answer, scoring twice in the bottom half of the inning. Platt doubled home Gary with the first run, and would eventually score on an illegal pitch, giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead after one inning.
Karlie Gillam doubled to lead off the top of the fifth, and would later score on a sac fly, tying the game at two. The score would remain 2-2 until the home half of the seventh inning.
Gary led off the bottom of the seventh with a solid single through the left side, bringing Platt to the plate. Just as she had in game one, Platt delivered the game-winning hit for the Blue and Green, crushing an Abbey Meixel offering over the left field fence. For Platt, it was her team- and conference-leading sixth home run, giving FGCU a 4-2 win and a sweep of the Owls.
Platt finished game two 2-for-4 with a double, home run, two runs scored, and three RBIs. Gary was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) started in the circle, but would end up with a no decision. Breaux allowed two runs on eleven hits in 5.2 innings, walking four and striking out five. Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla.) picked up the win in relief, improving to 3-2 on the season. Sullivan pitched 1.1 perfect innings, picking up one strikeout.
The Eagles travel to Clearwater, Fla. this weekend for the Under Armour Showcase tournament hosted by USF. FGCU opens the tournament on Friday with games against James Madison (1:30 p.m.) and New Mexico State (4 p.m.).