FORT MYERS, Fla. – With the start of the 2012 softball season fast approaching, FGCU softball is celebrating its 10th season of competition by counting down the Top 10 Moments in FGCU softball history.
The Eagles competed at the Division II level for their first five seasons, qualified for the postseason in two of their three eligible seasons, transitioned to Division I, joined the Atlantic Sun Conference, produced three Conference Players of the Year and three All-Americans, and won 382 games. After poring over more than 500 games of history, a panel selected the most significant events and will release one each day leading up to the first pitch of the 2012 season.
Coming in at No. 8 - "The 2009 Upset Win vs. #13 DePaul at FGCU Tournament” (Feb. 21, 2009)
FGCU finished the home tournament in 2009 with a 4-1 record with wins over Fairfield, Bethune-Cookman, Michigan State and No. 13 DePaul.
FGCU opened the 2009 season with a record of 7-3 by earning a third place finish at USF's tournament and a second place finish at FIU's tournament. They would open their home schedule the weekend of February 20th with a tournament featuring two games against preseason No. 13 DePaul. Redshirt sophomore Cat McDaniel started the tournament Friday night with a no-hitter against Fairfield University before the Eagles faced DePaul for the first time. After taking a 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning, FGCU would surrender 12 unanswered runs and suffered a 12-4 loss in six innings.
The Green and Blue would have a rematch the very next night and just like the night before, they took a 4-0 early lead. Junior leftfielder Lauran Ziegler struck out to lead off the bottom of the first but reached base on a passed ball. After a stolen base by Ziegler, walk to senior shortstop Jessica Paez, and a wild pitch that advanced runners to second and third, senior third baseman Cheyenne Jenks drove in the first run when Ziegler beat the throw home on a grounder to the DePaul shortstop. Senior designated hitter Samantha Waldron drove Paez home with a single to left and sophomore rightfielder Courtney Platt capped the scoring in the first inning with a two-run double to left centerfield.
"I remember feeling an eerie sense of deja vu because we were in exactly the same place we were less than 24 hours before,” said head coach David Deiros. “We had an early lead against a very formidable squad. The main difference was that we had done the damage against their No. 1 pitcher--and we had our No. 1 going at them.”
McDaniel, who came into the game with a record of 5-0, held the Blue Demons scoreless for the first four innings by scattering four hits and striking out five batters. Her defense thwarted the Blue Demons' biggest threat of the game in the top of the third when senior catcher Desiree Miller tagged out a runner at home plate trying to score on a grounder to shortstop Paez.
The Blue Demons would again apply pressure in the top of the fifth inning by getting two leadoff singles. DePaul's starting pitcher Becca Heteniak made the score 4-3 with a one-out homer to straight centerfield. Unlike the night before, FGCU immediately responded to DePaul's runs when Paez blasted a two-out homer to right center that gave the Eagles a little breathing room at 5-3.
After a quiet sixth inning, the stage was set for the top of the seventh as McDaniel was looking for the complete game victory. McDaniel struck out the first batter she faced but allowed a one out single to left. The next batter struck out swinging for the second out of the inning but a walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases.
"I pitched 6 and 2/3 innings and we were winning, however, I began to struggle that last inning giving up a single to left field, a walk and hit by pitch,” said Catherine McDaniel. “With one out left, and the designated player coming up, time was called. I knew what was happening and part of me knew it needed to happen, but it took all I had to not kick and stomp my feet at the decision. I was being relieved of my pitching duties and someone else was going to finish the game."
Coach Deiros was bringing in freshman pitcher Cassidy Rash who started the previous game against DePaul and allowed five earned runs in 3 and 1/3 innings. The move looked risky after Rash promptly walked the next hitter on five pitches forcing in a run and cutting the lead to 5-4 with two outs. However, Rash responded by inducing a game-ending popup to Paez, earning her first collegiate save.
"In the end we came up with the 5-4 win, but almost three years later the bitterness (about being pulled from the game) lives on,” said McDaniel. The win against No. 13 DePaul was FGCU’s first win against a ranked opponent in Division I and started a streak of 24 straight victories.
"I really enjoyed our win over No. 13 DePaul after a loss the day prior,” said Courtney Platt. “It showed me that our young program can compete against high caliber teams and win.”
The Eagles finished the season with a record of 47-9 (top 10 in the country for wins and winning percentage) and an amazing 23-2 at the FGCU Softball Complex. They finished just a game shy of earning their second consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title. McDaniel finished her first season at FGCU with a record of 22-1. The Green and Blue's prolific offense led the country in batting average (.351) and finished second in runs scored per game--both feats shattered previous Atlantic Sun Conference records.
FGCU opens its 10th season for the fifth consecutive year at the USF Tournament where they will face the tournament host and No. 2 University of Florida on Friday, Feb. 10th.
The Eagles will unveil one moment per day for 10 consecutive days, and culminating with the No. 1 moment on Feb. 10th to coincide with the start of the season. You will be able to relive all the events at www.fgcuathletics.com/softball.
No. 10 – Comeback victory vs. UNF in extra innings in 2004
No. 9 – Walk-off win against #17 Valdosta State in 2007
No. 8 – Upset win vs. #13 DePaul in 2009