3/1/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 72
3/1/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 59
CLEARWATER, Fla. – No. 38 FGCU (10-4) won both of its contests in day one of the USF Under Armour Invitational over a pair of mid-major opponents in Western Michigan and Loyola Chicago, by scores of 7-1 and 5-2 respectively, at the Eddie C. Moore Complex on Friday night.
“Today wasn’t easy,” said FGCU head coach David Deiros. “Today they had to battle the elements and two teams that were scrappy and in certain cases battle their own mistakes and in all cases they passed with flying colors. Congratulations to our kids for being resilient today.”
The day one sweep at the invitational now has FGCU rolling on a six-game win streak which is the longest of the young 2013 season.
The Green and Blue took on Mid-American Conference member Western Michigan to start off their day in Clearwater and got to work in the first inning as Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) drove a ball deep over the left center field fence with Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) on second courtesy of a walk and stolen base to give FGCU a 2-0 lead after striking first.
With one away in the top of the third, Zgrabik stepped back into the batter’s box and sent a pitch to straight away center field for her second home run, along with her third and fourth RBI, of the ball game and put the Eagles on top 4-1.
Zgrabik, the 2013 A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year came to play and showed why the league’s coaches believe she is the best player in the conference as after game one of the day she had collected four home runs in her last four games.
FGCU was not finished though as it added one more run to make it a 5-1 game thanks to a sacrifice fly from Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) to add to the FGCU lead.
At the start of the visitors frame of the fourth, Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) dropped a shallow pop fly down the left field line for a double and a Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) single up the middle made it 6-1 in favor of the Green and Blue.
Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) added insurance to the FGCU lead in the top of the seventh inning with solo shot to left center to extend it to 7-1 FGCU.
FGCU came out against Loyola Chicago in the second game of the day in cold, windy conditions with their presence known on the base paths. With one out in the top of the first, Zgrabik stroked a single sharply to the shortstop to bring in Tori Williams from third for the game’s first run which gave the Green and Blue an early 1-0 edge.
Loyola Chicago was determined to make things competitive as the Ramblers brought across two runs in the home half of the first to grab hold of a 2-1 lead over FGCU.
As the game shifted to the third inning, FGCU started to rattle Loyola Chicago as the Eagles used a single and back-to-back four-pitch walks in the midst of a pitching change to put the pressure on Loyola Chicago. Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) stepped into the box with the bases loaded and with a 3-1 count smashed a ball far over the right field wall for a grand slam to put FGCU on top 5-2.
Strong pitching from Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) proved vital for the Green and Blue as her complete game performance, while collecting eight strikeouts, kept the Ramblers in check as the Eagles went on to win the game and sweep the day.
FGCU will turn the page to day two of the USF Under Armour Invitational on Saturday, March 2 against Kent State at 12:15 p.m. and BIG EAST member Providence at 5:00 p.m. For information on the USF Under Armour Invitational, including game times, participating teams and ticket information, visit the Tournament Central page.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
USF Under Amour Invitational Day One Results
Friday, March 1
3:45 p.m. – FGCU def. Western Michigan – 7-1
6:00 p.m. – FGCU def. Loyola Chicago – 5-2