FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team tallied runs in each frame in game one to down Lipscomb, 14-0 in five innings and then took game two, 5-1, in an Atlantic Sun doubleheader on Thursday at the FGCU Softball Complex.
The victories improve the Eagles’ record to 27-21 on the season, while more importantly moves them into a tie for first-place with Jacksonville in the A-Sun standings with a 10-2 conference mark. The losses snap a four-game winning streak for Lipscomb that had posted four straight wins via shutout as the Lady Bisons’ record drops to 22-16 and 9-3 in league play.
Senior Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) and redshirt sophomore Kayla Gabel (Lakeland, Fla./State College of Florida) both hit .500 on the day. Gabel was 3-for-6 with three RBI, while Platt went 2-for-4 with two RBI and picked up four walks. In total, six Eagles had multi-hit outings.
FGCU sent nine batters to the plate in the first to face Lipscomb starter Whitney Kiihnl who struggled to find the strike zone. FGCU drew two walks and a hit batter in the first and Kiihnl was called for two illegal pitches. With bases loaded and nobody out, sophomore Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers) fired a grand slam to right field to give FGCU a 4-0 lead.
The Eagles added five to their lead in the bottom of the second on three hits to push the score to 9-0. Freshman Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gullivar Prep) reached on a fielder’s choice before stealing second and advancing on an illegal pitch. Platt reached on a walk before another illegal pitch advanced the runners, scoring Garabedian. Fernández then notched her second hit of the game, taking second on the throw and moving Platt to third.
A single to right field from freshman Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake) plated Platt and moved Fernandez to third before a one-out single from Gabel scored both runners. Gabel was able to make it to third on the throw to the plate. Another illegal pitch from Kiihnl pushed Gabel across the plate before a strikeout ended the inning.
Platt singled through the right side in the third inning, scoring Williams who reached on a single of her own before stealing second and advancing on an error to make it a 10-0 game.
FGCU pushed four runs across the dish in the fourth on three hits and two errors. Sophomore Chelsea Yates (Boynton Beach, Fla./Park Vista) drew a walk before advancing to third on a Lipscomb miscue on classmate Erin Olson’s (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier) hit. With two on, Gabel then drove a one-run double down the left line. With runners now on second and third, senior Nicole Boswell (Jacksonville, Fla./Bartram Trail) singled up the middle to plate Olson. Gabel then scored on an error on Williams’ hit before a Garabedian single scored Boswell for the final run of the inning.
Offensively, Lipscomb struggled to get anything going against FGCU starter redshirt senior Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) (13-9) allowed just three hits and one walk with six strikeouts in five scoreless innings to notch her 13th win of the season. McDaniel has now given up just three runs in her last six outings. Kiihnl (16-8) got tagged with the loss, giving up nine runs on four hits and six walks, while striking out just two batters in two innings of work. JJ Nelson came in two innings of relief, surrendering five runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk.
The Blue and Green jumped in front, tallying four runs in the first inning in game two. Freshman Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon) and Garabedian hit back-to-back singles before a one-run double from Platt put runners at second and third. Two straight ground outs pushed two more runs across before a single to left field from freshman Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch) scored classmate Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony) from second for the early 4-0 lead.
Lipscomb got two quick strikeouts in the second, but FGCU drew three straight walks to load the bases before a hit by pitch pushed a run across. With the bases still loaded, Kiihnl, who came in relief, struck out the final batter to end the threat.
The Lady Bisons got on the board after Caroline Mason drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a throwing error. Mason then scored on Vanessa Medina’s single to left to make it 5-1. With two runners on and one down, Sullivan buckled down and got the final two outs to end the threat.
Lipscomb threatened again in the sixth with two on and no outs, but relief pitching from McDaniel proved to be effective as she recorded three straight outs.
Sophomore Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla./Venice) (6-5) earned her third straight win, giving up one run on five hits and one walk in five innings. McDaniel worked two innings for relief, giving up just one hit, while striking out two for the save. Watson (4-3) took the loss, surrendering six hits and four runs (one earned) in just two-thirds of an inning.
The Blue and Green closes out an eight-game homestand on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the FGCU Softball Complex. FGCU will honor four seniors in a special ceremony before game two against Belmont on Saturday. Boswell, Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla./Brevard CC), McDaniel and Platt will be recognized by head coach David Deiros, his staff, Director of Athletics Ken Kavanagh, Assistant Athletic Director Colleen Sorem and the 2011 team. Redshirt junior Morgan Campen (Rougemont, N.C./Northern) will also be recognized, but has a year of eligibility remaining.
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).