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@FGCU_Softball Bats Come Alive to Sweep Double Header at Northern Kentucky
|Win: MORGAN (12-7)||7.0||8||4||4||0||3|
|Loss: ENRIQUE (3-14)||4.1||11||10||7||3||4|
|Win: JOSIE (10-9)||4.2||9||6||6||2||1|
|Loss: BENHASE (1-6)||4.1||3||6||5||6||1|
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Backed by a strong day at the plate, the FGCU Softball team picked up two wins over Northern Kentucky University Saturday afternoon at Grein Softball Field. The Eagles earned a 13-4 win in game one before squeaking out a 13-10 victory in the second game. With the sweep of the double header, the Eagles improve to 30-24-1 on the season and even their Atlantic Sun Conference record at 13-13. The Norse fall to 5-33 on the year with a 1-24 mark in conference play.
“You have to give a lot of credit to NKU,” said head coach David Deiros. “They played well and didn’t quit. Our kids were resilient and came through with two great wins for us. We’ll look to finish the regular season on a high note with a series sweep tomorrow.”
The wins mark the 11th time in the team’s 12-year program history that the Eagles have reached 30 wins in a season. 2014 also becomes the team’s fourth-straight 30-win season.
Collectively, the Eagles produced 24 hits on the day with a season-high 15 hits in game one. The team’s 13 runs tied the most runs scored in a game this season.
Junior Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty High School) led the Eagles on the day with four RBI on two hits and two walks. Senior Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice High School) and sophomore Makensie McAvoy (Plant City, Fla./Plant City High School) added three hits each for the Eagles in the first game, while Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) added two homeruns in the Eagles’ offensive surge.
The Eagles started quickly with consecutive singles from Zgrabik and McAvoy in the top of the first. With two runners on, Carpenter laid another single through the left side to score McAvoy and give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake High School) followed with a sacrifice fly to score Zgrabik and put the visiting team up 2-0 before a single up the middle from Louie Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida S. Baker High School) scored Bembnowski and increased the FGCU lead to three runs.
Freshman Jeanie Verderese (Jacksonville, Fla./Creekside High School) led off the second with a single to the shortstop. The next two batters, Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass High School) and Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School), replicated Verderese’s hit with two more consecutive singles at the NKU shortstop to load the bases. McAvoy added her second single of the day with a hit through the left side to score Verderese and put FGCU up 4-0. With the bases still loaded, Carpenter drew a five-pitch walk to score another run before a groundout from Bembnowski added a sixth run for the Eagles.
The Norse responded in the bottom of the second with a leadoff double to left center. The Eagles forced two quick outs before NKU’s eight-hole hitter knocked a two-run homer to right center to put two runs on the board for the home team.
The Eagles retaliated with a leadoff homerun from Garabedian in the third but were unable to add any more hits in the inning. NKU added a third run in the bottom of the third after two-consecutive singles and an RBI ground out.
Carpenter reached base again to start the fourth with her second walk of the day, this time drawing the walk on the payoff pitch after a nine-pitch at bat. Bembnowski made it to first base on a fielder’s choice meant to throw out Carpenter, but an infield error allowed both runners to reach safely. Another infield error allowed Ross to take first and load the bases with just one out. Hannah Horwath (Lake Mary, Fla./Lake Mary High School) pinch hit and roped a three-run double to center field to increase the Eagle lead to 10-3 after just three and a half innings.
In the bottom of the fourth, NKU saw its second homerun of the day from Alexis VanHorn to add another run to the home team’s total.
Both teams were held scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings before the Eagles again added to their score.
Barnes led off the seventh with a single to center field and moved to second on McAvoy’s third single of the day. A single up the middle from Zgrabik scored Barnes before another hit from Carpenter added two runs for FGCU. The Eagles finished the inning with three runs on four hits and moved the score to 13-4.
The Eagles retired NKU in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the victory.
Junior Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe High School) moved to 12-7 on the season with the complete-game win. Morgan allowed four earned runs to score on eight hits in seven innings. She struck out three and walked none of the 28 batters she faced.
The Eagles were held scoreless to begin game two but struck again in the top of the second.
Ross walked to lead off the inning and moved to second when Garabedian also drew a walk. Verderese advanced the pair ahead on a sacrifice bunt before Knapik loaded the bases on another base on ball. Barnes was hit by a pitch to score the team’s first run of the game, without yet registering a hit. McAvoy drove in another run when she reached base on a shortstop error before Zgrabik drove in Knapik on a groundout to second base. The Norse relieved their starting pitcher but could not stifle the Eagle momentum as FGCU added its fourth run of the inning, still without a hit, when Barnes crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
The Eagles increased the lead in the top of the third. Ross walked and advanced to second with a single from Garabedian. Ross crossed the plate on a double to left center by Verderese that held two runners in scoring position with one out.
Knapik singled to the shortstop to drive in Garabedian before Barnes hit her seventh triple of the season to clear the bases and increase the FGCU lead to 8-0.
With an 8-0 deficit, the Norse responded in the bottom of the third. NKU singled to left field and put two runners on with an infield error. The third Norse batter made an attempt at a sacrifice fly but the runner was called out at the plate. The Eagles got out of the inning with a third-out fly out to maintain the lead.
In the top of the fourth, Ross doubled to left field with two outs to give the Eagles another base runner. As the next batter, Garabedian hit her second homerun of the day to move the Eagle lead to 10-0.
Starting pitcher Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero High School) sent the Norse down in order in the bottom of the fourth to the send the game to the fifth inning.
NKU prevented the Eagles from taking a run-rule win with a solo homerun to right field in the bottom of the fifth. The shot brought the score to 10-1 but the Norse were not finished battling. Following the homerun, the Norse added two base runners on back-to-back singles. NKU’s leadoff batter knocked a three-run homer over the right-field fence to increase the Norse’s run total to four and bring the score to 10-4. The home team used two walks and a single up the middle to add a fifth run in the inning and loaded the bases with two outs to continue the offensive threat. A bases-loaded walk cut the deficit to 10-6 before the Eagles forced a pop up to end the inning.
The Eagles went down in order in the sixth and brought the Norse up with momentum on their side. The leadoff batter walked before the Eagles forced two fly outs. The base runner stole second and advanced to third and scored on a wild pitch to add to the run total. A single down the left field line and a double to left field scored another run for NKU before the Eagles ended the inning with another fly out. After six innings, the Norse had cut the Eagle lead and trailed by just two runs, 10-8.
FGCU responded to the home team’s surge in the top of the seventh with added offense. The Eagles led off with a walk from Ross who stole second. With one out, Verderese singled up the middle to score Ross. The next batter, Tori VanCamp (Zellwood, Fla./Apopka High School), doubled down the left field line to score Verderese. With two outs, Horwath drew a five-pitch walk to put two runners on for pinch hitter Jessica Butler (Plant City, Fla./Plant City High School). Butler singled down the left field line to score VanCamp and increase the Eagle lead to 13-8.
Morgan entered the circle for the Eagles in the bottom of the seventh. She forced back-to-back ground outs before consecutive infield errors allowed two runners to reach base. A single up the middle scored a runner from second base to cut the Eagle lead to four runs with two outs. The next batter singled to the circle and knocked in another run to bring the home team within three runs. A third groundout ended the inning and gave the Eagles the win.
Josie earned the win for FGCU with six earned runs allowed on nine hits through 4.2 innings. Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers High School) pitched 1.1 innings of relief in game two. She allowed two runs on two hits but maintained the lead for FGCU before Morgan entered. Morgan finished with no earned runs on two hits in 1.0 inning of work.
The Eagles will conclude the three-game series with a single game on Sunday, May 4. First pitch at NKU is slated for noon. Following the series, FGCU will prepare for the 2014 Atlantic Sun Tournament as they will travel to Nashville, Tenn. The Eagles are ranked sixth in the conference entering tournament play and will face Stetson on Wednesday, May 7 at 3 p.m. CST.