FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU pitching staff limited the Atlantic Sun’s best offensive team to just seven hits in a doubleheader sweep as the Eagles won, 3-1, and 2-0, over visiting USC Upstate on Thursday at the FGCU Softball Complex.
The wins improve the Eagles’ overall record to 23-21, but more importantly moves them to 6-2 in the A-Sun. USC Upstate, who started the season 25-0, drops to 32-9 and 4-6 in the conference.
The combined effort in the circle from redshirt senior Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) and sophomore Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla./Venice) limited the Spartans to a .143 average, well below their conference-leading .314 clip. McDaniel (11-9) surrendered just four hits, two walks and a run, while fanning nine in game one. Sullivan (4-5) pitched a complete game shutout, her second of the season, giving up just three hits and one walk in game two.
Opposite the FGCU pitching staff, USC Upstate’s Morgan Childers (23-5) threw a one-hitter, walking four and striking out four in the loss, while Hannah Alexander (9-4) gave up seven hits and two runs, striking out four.
The Eagles got out to a quick start scoring one run in the first inning of game one on senior Courtney Platt’s (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) hit a sacrifice fly. Freshman Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon) scored on the play, reaching on a walk before stealing second and advancing on an illegal pitch.
In the second inning, redshirt sophomore Kayla Gabel (Lakeland, Fla./State College of Florida) registered her first home run of the season, firing a two-run shot over the right field wall to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
USC Upstate got on the board in the fifth on Kim Brasil’s single to centerfield and a throwing error on the hit allowed Katelyn Molkenthin to score from third.
The Eagles got two quick outs in the seventh, but USC Upstate had a ground out called back due to catcher’s interference allowing Kim Brasil to reach first. Janna Lewis, who would be the tying run, singled to put runners on first and second, but McDaniel settled down and got the last batter swinging for the game.
Sophomore Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers) put FGCU on the board in the fourth inning of game two, sending a 0-1 pitch past Upstate’s diving shortstop to score Platt, who reached on a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch, giving the Eagles 1-0 lead. Platt secured the win with a home run to right field for the 2-0 advantage in the sixth inning.
USC Upstate again tried to get something going in the seventh with a leadoff single from Lauren Quevedo, but a fly out and Quevedo’s out on a fielder’s choice, made it two down for Ashley Butler. Butler took a 0-1 count and grounded out to freshman Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch) who made a great throw to first to end the game.
Gabel and Platt each notched two RBI on their two hits, while Fernández and sophomore Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla./Park Vista) rounded out the multi-hit batters.
FGCU continues conference play on Saturday with a doubleheader against ETSU (14-22, 3-7 A-Sun) at 2 p.m. ETSU split with Stetson on Thursday, rallying to a 4-3 run in game one before falling short, 6-5 in game two. Saturday’s games will be “Think Pink” games to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Along with ceremonial first pitches from three current players’ mothers, who are survivors of breast cancer, FGCU athletics will sell pink t-shirts with proceeds going to the foundation.
Tickets for the game 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 here. FGCU students, faculty and staff get in free of charge with an Eagle ID.
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 Twitter (@FGCUEagles).