(11-38, 5-19 A-Sun)
(35-16, 16-7 A-Sun)
4/28/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 142
FORT MYERS, Fla. – In its final home game of the 2013 during which three Eagle seniors were honored, the FGCU softball team once again walked off winners, this time against Northern Kentucky, to complete a three-game sweep of the Norse on Sunday afternoon at the FGCU Softball Complex.
“Three tough games and we had to come back in all of them and stick in there,” said head coach David Deiros. “All of our kids did a great job so congratulations to them and specifically to our senior class as they did a fantastic job and were instrumental in our wins today.”
The triumph on Sunday lifts FGCU to an overall record of 35-16 this season with a 16-7 mark against Atlantic Sun competition. The loss drops Northern Kentucky to 11-38 in their first season of Division I membership as the Norse have posted a 5-19 record in A-Sun play.
After collecting two wins in Saturday’s doubleheader sweep, junior transfer Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Dayton State College) started from inside the circle for FGCU in the series finale.
Northern Kentucky got on the scoreboard at their first chance they got as the Norse pushed one run across in the top of the first on a mishandled pop fly to go up 1-0 on the road.
FGCU struggled to get comfortable against the Northern Kentucky starting pitcher through the first two innings as the Eagles looked for the three-game series sweep.
The Eagle batting order looked to collect its first hit of the game and place runners on base against the NKU pitcher. Once junior Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) reached on a four-pitch walk and junior Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS) beat out an infield single, FGCU was in prime position for a scoring threat.
Sophomore Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) struck a ball to center field with runners on second and third base after a wild pitch for a sacrifice fly, scoring Barnes from third and knotting the game up at 1-1 in the home half of the fourth.
On two occasions, once in the fourth and once in the fifth, the Norse had a runner on second with two outs as NKU looked to capitalize. Senior centerfielder Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS), on both occasions, fielded a single up the middle and fired home to collect two throw-outs at the plate with help from catcher Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) to keep the Norse from scoring their second run of the game.
Owen stood tall from the pitching rubber despite her squad falling behind early and with the help of her stellar Eagle defense, limited NKU to one run on six hits through seven innings of work to keep FGCU tied with the Norse in the low-scoring affair.
For the third time in as many games, FGCU found itself in a defensive struggle heading into the home half of the seventh. After the Green and Blue were unable to win the game in regulation, the contest shifted to extra innings with the score still knotted up at 1-1.
Comfortable with extra inning contests, the Eagles retired the NKU lineup with ease in the top half of the eighth and headed into the home half of the inning with hopes of walking off winners for the third time of the series.
Leading off the bottom of the eighth, freshman Hannah Horwath (Lake Mary, Fla./Lake Mary HS) entered as a pinch hitter and came through for her team with a shallow single down left field line. In her final home game as an Eagle, senior Kayla Ramey (Fort Myers, Fla./Seminole State College) entered as a pinch runner for Horwath at first base. A sacrifice bunt from junior Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) advanced Ramey to second and set the table for an FGCU score.
After Barnes reached first on an intentional base on balls, freshman Alexis “Louie” Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida S. Baker HS) came to the plate in a pinch hit role. Just as she has done on multiple occasions in her rookie season, Ross came through in the clutch for the Green and Blue, this time with a single down the third base line that bounced off of third base and rolled down the line to allow Ramey to score the game-winning run and give FGCU the 2-1 Senior Day win and three-game sweep of NKU.
The walk-off win was just another example of the late-inning heroics that the Eagles have become accustomed to this season with FGCU now 8-1 in extra inning contests in 2013. The Eagles have also protected their nest as they have in recent years with FGCU finishing 22-7 at home this season with the Eagles having reached the 20-win plateau for the fifth time in program history, the second time in FGCU’s Division I tenure and the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Entering the weekend, FGCU and NKU had never faced off in the history of the two programs and after the three-game series the Eagles lead the all-time series with the Norse, 3-0.
FGCU will hit the road for its final series of the 2013 regular season as they will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. to take on North Florida. The Eagles and Ospreys will play a trio of contests with the action to begin with a doubleheader on Friday, May 3 at 4 p.m.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.