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.
Next on the countdown at No. 6 - "The 2003 First Win in Program History against Fla. Southern” (Feb. 8, 2003)
The FGCU Softball team practiced on recreational fields next to Alico Arena (currently parking lots and student housing) during their inaugural season. Because there was no softball field on campus, the infielders did not get a chance to work on clay during the week and the team had to play their home games at Gulf Coast High School in North Naples.
“How about long before you even started practices when Christine (Beck), Adrianne (Cicirello) and I imagine many others had to try out in the grass,” said Ernest Beck, father of freshman pitcher Christine Beck. “I remember you brought us in to talk in the trailer, which back then you didn't even have an office.
So with the promise of an on-campus stadium a year away, the Eagles geared up for their first-ever season of softball in 2003. In front of over 400 fans at head coach David Deiros' previous institution, his new team took the field for the first time in school history against former Division II National Champion Florida Southern College.
To complicate matters, the Green and Blue’s most experienced pitcher and opening day starter, junior Nicole Werhner, had to be scratched from the entire weekend because of illness. As a result, freshman Christine Beck got the start and threw the first pitch in FGCU history. Beck started out a little shaky allowing two runs in the first inning on one walk, one hit, one error, and an attempted double steal.
FGCU answered with two unearned runs in the bottom of the first. Sophomore Ashley Cecil (Spencer) got the first hit and stolen base in FGCU history. Sophomore Kristy Ringler (Sewell) also got a single and, with Cecil, pulled off a successful double steal. They both scored two outs later on a Moccasin error.
Two Eagle errors placed runners on first and second to lead off the Moccasin 2nd inning. An RBI single helped Florida Southern regain the lead. However, FGCU quickly evened the score in the bottom of the same inning. Beck helped herself with a one out double to left field and Ringler drove her in with an RBI single of her own to even the score at 3-3.
The see-saw battle continued in the bottom of the third when junior Lindsey Ijjas led off the frame with a single and freshman Erin Ogden doubled to left field. Sophomore Blaire Toleman gave FGCU their first lead ever with a two-run double to right field making the score 5-3 after three complete innings. The lead was short-lived as Florida Southern would tie the game in the top of the fourth thanks to two costly errors by the Eagles.
Freshman Adrienne Cicirello led off the bottom of the fourth with a single but was replaced on first base by Cecil after a fielder's choice. Another single by Ringler and walk to Ijjas would load the bases. FGCU was able to retake the lead when Cecil beat the shortstop's throw to the plate on an Ogden ground ball. Two batters later, junior Lacey Carter delivered the biggest hit of the game when she crushed a base-clearing three-run double to deep left centerfield. The 9-5 score would hold up as neither team threatened the rest of the way.
Beck pitched the complete game and worked around five FGCU defensive errors, scattered six hits, and only allowed three earned runs. The Eagles' offense recorded 11 hits with Ringler leading the way going 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Cecil scored twice and stole three of the NCAA Division II-leading 66 bases she swiped on the season.
“I remember you told the girls you would love them to come to the school but you didn't know what kind of money you would have,” said Ernest Beck. “You told us what was coming in the future and it did from a grassy no field to a beautiful complex. When FGCU softball first started there was no pool, no field, no gym and playing miles away at a high school was also an adventure.
The Eagles would finish the 2003 season with a 33-17-1 record and the first of seven consecutive winning seasons. The Green and Blue have recorded over 30 victories in eight of their nine seasons of competition.
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
No. 7 - Seven Home Runs against Northwood in one inning in 2007
No. 6 – First Win in Program History against Fla. Southern in 2003