2/15/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1109
2/15/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1109
|Win: Jackie Traina
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU (2-2) softball team had its home opener as part of day one of the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament, taking down Wichita State (1-5), 6-2 before falling to No. 1 Alabama (7-0), 2-1 at the FGCU Softball Complex on Friday night.
A total of 1,109 people came out to watch the night session of Friday’s LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament action with both games including the hometown Eagles.
“It was a great environment tonight and a great atmosphere,” said FGCU head coach David Deiros. “Thank you to everyone for making this such a nice night and I am glad we were able to put on a good show for everybody. I thought our kids did well, they fell behind, but kept hanging in there. For us to be in there with a chance to win at the very end says a lot about what our ball club can do.”
Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) got the start in game one, originally scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch, but did not get underway until just after 8 p.m. as a result of the first four tournament games played Friday running long. Owen got the start not even 48 hours after she made her FGCU debut at FIU (Feb. 13) in a three inning relief effort in which she struck out four and retired eight straight.
With two outs in the top of the second inning, FGCU put together four straight hits to bring in two runs and take a 2-1 lead over the Shockers. Wichita State pulled even with the host Eagles in their half of the second, but from that point on it was all FGCU the rest of the way.
Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) roped a double down the left field line early in the third inning which was later followed by a long bomb from A-Sun preseason first teamer Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) as she smashed a ball deep into the southwest Florida night and over the center field wall to put FGCU up 4-2 and the Green and Blue never looked back.
In the top of the fourth, junior Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) drove a ball into the outfield, driving in two more runs to extend their lead to 6-2 and conclude the FGCU offensive flurry in their first game of the evening.
Junior pitcher Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) entered the game in relief in the seventh inning with Wichita State anxious to make a comeback effort, but Josie denied the Shockers the opportunity as she retired three straight to record her first save of the season and give FGCU its second victory of 2013.
FGCU’s Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS) and Zgrabik did not play in the Eagle’s first game of the day, but both started in the highly anticipated matchup with defending National Champion and No. 1 Alabama. Morgan kept the Crimson Tide bats quiet early on until Alabama’s Kaila Hunt made solid contact and sent a ball over the wall in left center to put the visitors up 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning.
Naples native Jackie Traina was strong for the Tide as she recorded 12 strikeouts in a complete game three-hit outing in her return home to southwest Florida. Behind a solid outing of Traina, Alabama did not need to rely on their offense as an insurance run put them up 2-0 in their half of the fifth.
The Eagles were not phased at any point during that game despite facing the 2012 WCWS Most Outstanding Player and 2012 SEC Pitcher of the Year in Traina as they made their at bats count, especially when Zgrabik led off the bottom of the seventh for FGCU with a double off the outfield wall. FGCU was able to pull within one run off of an Alabama fielding error to make it 2-1 in the home half of the seventh, but would get no closer as Traina shut the door to secure the victory for the Tide.
FGCU returns to action at the FGCU Softball Complex on Saturday, Feb. 16 with two more games in day two of the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament. The Eagles will face Appalachian State at 1:30 pm and Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. All-day passes are still available for Saturday and Sunday with tickets costing $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 to 12.
For information on the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament, including game times and participating teams, click here to visit the Tournament Central page (http://www.fgcuathletics.com/softball/2013LaQuintaTourney/). To purchase tickets for Saturday and Sunday of the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament, visit the FGCU Ticket Office Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. or call 239-590-7145 for more information.
LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament Day One Results
Friday, Feb. 15
Appalachian State def. Southern Illinois – 10-9 (8 inn.)
Georgia Southern def. Southern Illinois – 1-0
Alabama def. Appalachian State – 9-3
Georgia Southern def. Wichita State – 4-3
FGCU def. Wichita State – 6-2
Alabama def. FGCU – 2-1