Florida Gulf Coast
Saint Mary's (CA)
3/6/2013 | Moraga, Calif. | Attendance: 20
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Florida Gulf Coast
Saint Mary's (CA)
3/6/2013 | Moraga, Calif. | Attendance: 25
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MORAGA, Calif. – On day one of its seven-game road trip, the FGCU softball team (14-5) swept its doubleheader matchup with St. Mary’s by respective nail-biting scores of 5-3 and 4-3 at Cottrell Field on Wednesday afternoon.
“We played very well in two tight games,” said head coach David Deiros. “Our players responded courageously under pressure. We will need that kind of resolve as the season moves forward.”
With the first game of the day having had a mid-day start time of 1:00 p.m. PST between FGCU and St. Mary’s, the Eagles used a team effort with balanced hitting and defense to get ahead and never look back in game one.
With FGCU runners on first and second after a base hit and base on balls, Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) homered to right center in the top of the third to break the scoreless tie and put FGCU up 3-0. The long ball was the seventh of the year for Zgrabik, who was tabbed A-Sun Player of the Week on Mar. 4 for her performances the week prior for the Eagles in Clearwater, Fla.
St. Mary’s would work to keep the game close by reaching base in a multitude of ways and bring across two runs in the home half of the fourth inning to make it a 3-2 contest. With two runners on the base paths for the Gaels, FGCU starting pitcher Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla/Santa Fe HS) got the next two batters to groundout to end the inning and keep the Green and Blue in the lead.
In the away frame of the fifth, junior Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) made sure that it would not remain a one-run game with a home run to right field that brought in two and gave the Eagles another three-run advantage, this time with the score at 5-2.
St. Mary’s went all in for an attempt at a comeback in a last ditch effort in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Gaels put multiple runners on base and brought one across to trim the deficit to two runs. With runners on first and second, Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) fielded a ground ball, unassisted, for the third and final out of the game to give the Green and Blue a 5-3 victory in the first game of the doubleheader.
In the second game of the doubleheader between the Eagles and Gaels, the starting pitchers of each squad kept opposing batters in check as each team only had one hit through the first two innings.
St. Mary’s brought across the first run of the contest with a one out triple in the home half of the third to score a runner from second who initially reached base on an error. The home team would bring across two more runs in the bottom half of the frame on extra base hits to grab a multiple-run advantage. The runs gave the Gaels a 3-0 lead and its first lead of the day over the Green and Blue. FGCU game two starting pitcher Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) regrouped to retire the next two batters, by strikeout and groundout, to end the inning and stop the damage at three runs.
FGCU needed to climb back into the game for a shot at the doubleheader sweep and did just that in the visitor’s frame of the fifth inning. After a Kayla Gabel (Lakeland, Fla./State College of Florida) walk, an Alexis “Louie” Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida S. Baker HS) single in a pinch hitting role, and Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) having reached base as a pinch hitter after being hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded with no outs. It was then time for sophomore outfielder Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) to step up to the plate for an attempt to drive in the first run of the game for FGCU and she did just that. Carpenter sent a pitch over the wall in left center field for a grand slam that put FGCU on top for the first time of the game, 4-3.
The Green and Blue comeback would have been for naught if it wasn’t for a stingy defense that kept additional St. Mary’s base runners from crossing the plate. With one out in the bottom of the fifth and runners at the corners, Jackie Owen and her defense got a foul fly out and a ground ball out to end the inning and preserve the one-run FGCU lead through five.
With one inning left to play in the second game of the day between the two clubs, the visiting Eagles put runners on first and second with one out in the top of the seventh. A groundout from junior Emily Lanier was the second out of the inning and more importantly moved the runners over to put two in scoring position for the Green and Blue, but the FGCU base runners were unable to be brought across before the third out.
Three outs away from a game two comeback, Jackie Owen looked to shut the door and clinch an FGCU doubleheader sweep, but St. Mary’s wouldn’t go down without a fight. The Gaels loaded the bases with two outs to set up a fantastic finish to a doubleheader day that consisted of two close games.
Junior Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) replaced Owen inside the circle for a shot at getting the game’s final out to seal a one-run FGCU victory. Josie delivered for the Green and Blue by getting the St. Mary’s batter to strike out swinging to secure a 4-3 win, and clinch an Eagle sweep on its first day in California.
FGCU will spend its off day in the bay area before taking part in the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic in Palo Alto, Calif. which will run from March 8 through March 10 with all five FGCU contests to be played at Boyd and Jill Smith Family Stadium.
In day one of the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic on Friday, March 8, FGCU will take on Pacific at 5:30 p.m., followed by a meeting with No. 18 Stanford at 7:45 p.m. For information on the Stanford Louisville Classic, visit the Louisville Slugger Classic Central.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.