3/4/2012 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 87
CLEARWATER, Fla. – The FGCU softball team pounded out nine hits and scored six runs but couldn’t hold on as they lost to BIG EAST member Villanova, 7-6, on Sunday at the USF Under Armour Invitational at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
The Eagles fall to 8-12 on the season, while Villanova improves to 7-3, including a perfect 5-0 in the tournament.
In the final game, FGCU got off to a fast start scoring two runs in the top of the first after sophomore Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) led off with a single to shallow right field. Junior Stephanie Kujawa (Cooper City, Fla./Cooper City HS/ Virginia Tech) fouled out to third on a bunt, followed by a base hit from freshman Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) to put runners on first and third with one out. Sophomore Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) hit a sacrifice fly to center field to drive in the first run. Junior Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) singled to shallow centerfield to bring home Carpenter to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the second, the Green and Blue scored two more runs with Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) leading off the frame with a double, followed by foul out to third on a bunt by Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS). Barnes reached on an error by the third baseman to put runners on first and second with one out. After Kujawa struck out swinging, an illegal pitch was called during Carpenter’s at bat moving the runners to second and third with two outs. Carpenter would make them pay with a clutch two-run single to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
The Wildcats would not go away quietly as they scored in the bottom of the second to cut the lead to 4-1 FGCU. Beth Smetana had an RBI double with two outs to bring home the run for Villanova.
FGCU increased its lead in the top of the third scoring two more runs after a two out error allowed redshirt junior Kayla Gabel (Lakeland, Fla./State College of Florida) to reach first base. Bembnowski would make Villanova pay with a two-run homer to left field to make the score 6-1 FGCU.
Villanova would came right back with a huge four-run inning on four hits to cut into the Eagles lead at 6-5. Freshman pitcher Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS) could not finish the inning after allowing seven hits five earned runs in 2.2 innings of work. The inning started with a groundout, followed by a swinging bunt by Tessa Braga to reach first base. Kristi Burlin singled to put runners on first and second with one out. After another groundout moved the runners to second and third, Morgan walked Molly Manning to load the bases. Amanda Marquez provided the big blow with a two-out ground rule double down the line in left to plate two runners, making it 6-3 Eagles. Briana Fujii singled up the middle to score two more runners to end Morgan’s day in the circle.
In the top of the fifth, the Green and Blue had an opportunity to put some more runs on the board after Fernandez worked a walk to start the inning, followed by a single by Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) to put runners on first and second with no outs. Gabel laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out, but Bembnowski fouled out to third and pinch-hitter Stephanie Metzger (Naples, Fla./Palmetto Ridge) popped out to the shortstop to end the threat.
The Wildcats would take advantage scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth off relief pitcher Morgan Campen (Rougemont, N.C./Northern HS) to take the lead for the first time in the game at 7-6. Burlin singled to start the frame, followed by a hit by pitch from Valerie Ortega to put runners on first and second. Manning singled through the left side to tie the game at 6-6. Villanova would take the lead after Marquez reached on an error scoring Ortega from second.
The Eagles had an opportunity to tie the game in the top of the sixth as Barnes worked a walk, followed by a perfect bunt single from pinch-hitter Kayla Ramey (Fort Myers, Fla./North Fort Myers HS/Seminole State College) to put runners on first and second with no outs. The Green and Blue could not capitalize after two fly outs and a strikeout from Fernandez to end the chance.
Bembnowski singled in the seventh to finish 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a two-run homer. Carpenter also had a multi-hit game going 2-for-4 with two RBI.
The Eagles return home to begin conference play against Kennesaw State on Wednesday, March 7 with the first game of the doubleheader to begin at 5 p.m.
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUEagles), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.
USF-Under Armour Invitational
*Games played at the Eddie C. Moore Complex: Clearwater, Fla.*
Friday, March 2
Quinnipiac 1, FGCU 0
FGCU 8, Western Michigan 2
Saturday, March 3
South Dakota State 2, FGCU 1
FGCU 6, Bowling Green 1
Sunday, March 4
Villanova 7, FGCU 6