NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The FGCU softball team returned to the win column on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader sweep at Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. The Eagles took game one, 2-1, before dominating the second game, 11-4. Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) collected three hits and four RBIs on the day, including her second home run of the season.
With the wins, the Blue and Green improve to 22-26 overall and 10-6 in the A-Sun, while Belmont drops to 7-37, 3-11 in conference play.
Game one was a classic pitcher’s duel, with only seven total hits in the game. After two scoreless innings, the Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the third. With two outs, Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla.) drew a walk. Yates then stole second and third before scoring on an infield single by Ziegler.
Belmont tied things up on a squeeze play in the fifth inning, leveling the score at 1-1. Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) was able to strand runners at second and third, keeping the score even at one apiece through five innings.
FGCU answered back with a run of their own in the sixth inning, again mounting a rally with two outs. Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) started the rally with a double, and Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.) followed with a walk. Freshman Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla.) came up with a base hit down the right field line to score Platt, giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
McDaniel would keep the Bruins off of the scoreboard over the final two frames, despite a late rally in the seventh inning by Belmont. McDaniel induced a pop out with runners on second and third to end the game, securing the 2-1 win for the Blue and Green.
Ziegler finished game one 1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base, while Fernandez was also 1-for-3 with an RBI.
McDaniel threw a complete game to pick up the win, improving to 10-12 on the year. The junior allowed one run on four hits, walking two and striking out three.
In game two, the Eagle bats came to life early, plating five runs over the first two innings.
Ziegler led off the game with a walk, and moved up to second base on a wild pitch. After advancing to third on a ground out, Ziegler came in to score on a fielder’s choice ground out by O’Mara, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
The second inning saw the Blue and Green plate four runs thanks to some patient at-bats. Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.) led off the inning reaching on a hit-by-pitch, and Nicole Boswell (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Brittany Baker (Summerfield, Fla.) followed with back-to-back walks, loading the bases. All three runners would move up on a wild pitch, with Upchurch scoring (2-0). Ziegler then launched a three-run shot, her second home run of the year, giving FGCU a 5-0 lead through two frames.
Baker would extend the lead to 6-0 when she led off the fourth inning with a solo home run. For Baker, it was her first collegiate home run, making her the tenth different Eagle to homer this season. Later in the inning, O’Mara doubled home Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) to increase the lead to 7-0 through four innings.
The Bruins cut the lead to 7-4 when Ashley Byers hit a grand slam in the fifth inning, but that was as close as they would get.
The Eagles came back with three runs in the sixth, including a two-run home run off the bat off Fernandez, her sixth of the season, taking a 10-4 lead.
The Blue and Green added one more run in the seventh, as Baker drove home Erin Olson (Naples, Fla.) with a sacrifice fly, giving FGCU an 11-4 lead. The Eagles would go on to win by that same score, sweeping the doubleheader.
Ziegler finished game two 2-for-3 with a home run, stolen base, three runs scored, and three RBIs. O’Mara, Fernandez, and Baker each drove in a pair of runs.
Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) earned the win, allowing four runs on eight hits in six innings of work, fanning two batters. Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla.) pitched a scoreless seventh, allowing one hit and striking out one.
The Eagles return to action tomorrow afternoon with a doubleheader at Lipscomb. First pitch for game one is slated for 1 p.m. EDT.