FORT MYERS, Fla. – After opening the evening with a 10-0 win against BIG EAST rival Georgetown, the FGCU softball team dropped its night cap against Big Ten foe Michigan State, 12-3, on the first day of the Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Tournament on Friday.
The split drops the Eagles’ record to 3-4 on the early season, heading into Saturday’s match-ups against Saint Louis (4-3) and the SEC’s South Carolina (4-3) at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., respectively.
In the opener, FGCU loaded the bases in the second inning with no outs after walks by freshman Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony) and sophomore Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla./Park Vista) and a single from sophomore Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla./Lake Wales). Leadoff hitter, freshman Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon) stepped into the batter’s box and slapped a single up the middle of the infield to score Lanier. Freshman Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City) ripped a three-run triple down the left field line, clearing the bases and giving the Blue and Green a 4-0 lead. Barnes then scored FGCU’s fifth and final run of the inning on an illegal pitch.
The Blue and Green tacked on another run in the top of the fifth inning (6-0) when Yates, who reached base on a bunt single, came across the plate after redshirt sophomore Kayla Gabel (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins/State College of Florida) earned a walk with the bases full.
FGCU wrapped up the shutout by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh frame. Barnes started things off with a single and quickly scored after senior Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) tripled to right centerfield (7-0). Platt came home on a wild pitch and Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) scored (9-0) after a double from Nicole Boswell (Jacksonville, Fla./Bartram Trail), who crossed the plate on an error from the right fielder to close out the seventh inning.
Sophomore Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla./Venice) (2-0) got the start on the mound, pitching a complete game shutout with five hits, one walk and three strikeouts.
In game two of the evening, FGCU and Michigan State were deadlocked at 0-0 until the fourth inning. MSU’s offense then fired up, tacking on seven runs on eight hits in the fifth inning.
The Eagles responded with a three-run inning of their own, beginning with three consecutive walks issued to Williams, Barnes and Platt. Gabel then grounded out to score Williams and advance the runners. Garabedian stepped up with a double down the left field line to plate Barnes and Platt, shortening the Spartans’ lead to 7-3.
MSU struck again in the sixth inning, adding five more runs to its lead to give them a 12-3 advantage and the game.
Redshirt senior pitcher Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) (1-2) picked up the loss in 4.2 innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out six. Spartan pitcher Lauren Kramer (3-1) earned the win in 4.0 innings with three strikeouts, while giving up two earned runs on three hits and six walks.
For the day, Garabedian went 3-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI, while Barnes was 2-for-5 with a triple, three RBI and three walks. As a team, FGCU had 15 hits including five of the extra-base variety.
Tickets for the Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Tournament can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. All Tournament passes, valid for all games during the tournament, will be $10 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-18).
Live stats, box scores and recaps for every FGCU contest as well as the other tournament games are available at www.FGCUAthletics.com. Live updates of FGCU’s games can also be followed on www.twitter.com/FGCUEagles.