FORT MYERS, Fla. – Despite an eight-run rally in the sixth inning, the FGCU softball team came up short against Big Ten foe Iowa, 11-9, in its opening game of the Moe’s Blue and Green Invite at the FGCU Softball Complex on Friday night.
With the loss, FGCU falls to 3-8 on the season while Iowa improves to 5-4.
FGCU had a season-high 12 hits, led by freshman Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake), who was 4-for-4 with one RBI, and home runs from freshmen Jessica Barnes (Winter Park, Fla./Haines City) and Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony). Sophomore Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers), freshman Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep), and redshirt sophomore Lindsey Green (Bowling Green, Ky./Greenwood) had multi-hit evenings to add to the total.
Iowa struck first, plating five runs on five hits in the top of the first. All five Hawkeye hits were singles as Iowa batted around the order in the opening frame.
The Blue and Green got on the scoreboard in the home half of the fifth inning. Barnes stepped into the batter’s box and after battling off a couple of pitches, blasted a towering home run over the left field fence to make it 5-1.
In a repeat of the first inning, the Hawkeyes tacked on five more runs off five hits in the sixth to lead 10-1 heading into the bottom half of the inning.
With a run-rule loss in sight, FGCU’s offense erupted for eight runs on seven hits in the bottom of the frame. The Eagles began the inning with back-to-back singles by Green and Bembnowski, who then scored off an Iowa miscue. Sophomore Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla./Lake Wales) reached on another Iowa error and then Lanier hit a two-run shot over the left center wall to bring the Eagles to within five, at 10-5.
With one out and the bases loaded, Fernández doubled to left center field to score two and bring the Eagles to within three, 10-7. Garabedian then followed with a single to bring in Fernandez. Back-to-back singles scored another run for the Eagles bringing the score to, 10-9, before Kayla Massey, who entered in relief midway through the inning, retired the final batter.
Iowa added an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Ashley Akers reached base on a bunt single, stole second and advanced to third base on a ground out. Jenny Schuelke brought Akers home on a single to right center to give the Hawkeyes the final 11-9 lead.
Redshirt senior Cat McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./State College of Florida) (1-4) picked up the loss, giving up nine hits, four runs and two walks, while fanning two in four innings of work.
The Eagles take the field again on Saturday, Feb. 26 when they host Southern Illinois on day two of the Moe's Blue and Green Invite. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.
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.
Moe’s Blue and Green Invite Schedule/Results
Friday, Feb. 25
Southern Illinois 4, St. Francis 2
Eastern Michigan 6, UMBC 1
Southern Illinois 5, UMBC 1
Iowa 2, Albany 1
Iowa 11, FGCU 9
Albany 5, Eastern Michigan 4 (10)
Saturday, Feb. 26
UMBC vs. Iowa, 9:00 a.m.
Iowa vs. Eastern Michigan, 11:15 a.m.
St. Francis vs. UMBC, 1:30 p.m.
Southern Illinois vs. Albany, 3:45 p.m.
FGCU vs. Southern Illinois, 6:00 p.m.
Albany vs. St. Francis, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday Feb. 27
Eastern Michigan vs. UMBC, 9:00 a.m.
Iowa vs. Southern Illinois, 11:15 a.m.
FGCU vs. Albany, 1:30 p.m.
St. Francis vs. Eastern Michigan, 3:45 p.m.
FGCU vs. St. Francis, 6 p.m.