FORT MYERS, Fla. – FIU strung together 18 hits in a doubleheader sweep of the FGCU softball team by scores of 3-2 and 4-2 in a doubleheader on Wednesday evening at the FGCU softball Complex.
The losses snap a season-long four-game winning streak for the Eagles as FGCU falls to 19-19 on the season. FIU improves to 19-15 and now owns a 7-3 advantage in the in-state rivalry.
FIU had five nicely placed singles to score three runs in the top of the third inning. Jessy Alfonso and Beth Peller had back-to-back singles to the right side and left field, respectively. Ashley McClain then loaded the bases on an FGCU miscue. Another set of singles scored two runs before the final run came across on a single through the left side. With the bases loaded and only out, consecutive fly outs ended the inning before any more damage could be done.
The Eagles took their original lead, 1-0, in the second on redshirt sophomore Kayla Gabel’s (Lakeland, Fla./State College of Florida) single through the right side to score classmate Lindsey Green (Bowling Green, Ky./Greenwood) from third. Green reached on a single to shortstop, advanced to second on a throwing error and moved to third on a ground out.
FGCU pushed another run across the plate in the third when senior Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast), who reached on a walk and advanced on a sacrifice bunt, scored on a FIU miscue.
FGCU threatened to take the lead in the fourth as the Eagles loaded the bases on walks with one out, but FIU’s Jenn Gniadek settled down though and got two outs to end the threat.
Redshirt senior Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) limited the Panthers to just two more hits over the remainder of the game to give FGCU a chance to win as they put runners on base in the last frame. With no outs and runners on the corners, FIU quickly shut down FGCU’s chance as it tallied the next three outs in a row to take game one.
Gniadek improves to 7-8 with the win after a six strike-out performance against six hits and zero earned runs allowed in seven complete innings of work. McDaniel (8-9) took the loss, surrendering nine hits and three runs (two earned) in seven innings of work, while fanning three in seven innings.
In the second game, FIU scattered a run in four different innings on nine hits and no strike outs. The Eagles tallied seven hits and five walks, but could not convert runs as they left a total of 12 runners stranded.
In the second, FIU’s Brie Rojas led off with a double before moving to third on a wild pitch. Rojas then scored on Rachel Slowik’s single through the left side to plate the first run of the inning. The Panthers added another run in the third off Kayla Burri’s RBI sacrifice fly to score Peller, who reached on a double.
Sophomore relief pitcher Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla./Venice) and the FGCU defense held FIU hitless in the fourth and fifth before the Panthers added a run in both the sixth and seventh inning that proved to be needed.
FGCU got on the board in the final frame after back-to-back singles from freshman Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon) and sophomore Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers). On the next out, an overthrow to third base allowed Williams to score and Fernández to advance to third. A single from Green plated Fernández before freshman Kirsten Bembnowski’s (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake) walk put the tying run on first, but FIU got the final out to secure the win.
Senior Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla./Brevard CC) (6-6) picked up the loss, giving up three hits, two runs and three walks in three innings. Sullivan also gave up two runs on six hits. Mariah Dawson (7-4) earned the win, tossing 12 strike outs, while giving up two runs on seven hits and five walks in a complete game.
FGCU now turns its full attention to conference play as it travels to Georgia for doubleheaders against A-Sun foes Mercer and Kennesaw State. The Eagles play Mercer on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. before heading north to face the Owls on Sunday at 1 p.m. Live stats for each game is available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.