3/13/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 113
3/13/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 204
FORT MYERS, Fla. – After returning from a week-long stay in California, the FGCU softball team (17-9) returned home to the FGCU Softball Complex and treated all fans in attendance by winning two, one of which in walk-off fashion, at the FGCU Softball Complex on Wednesday night.
The Green and Blue hosted Maine and Valparaiso at home in a mid-week twin billing and won both in comeback fashion, by scores of 3-2 and 11-10, respectively.
“What a day,” said head coach David Deiros. “It was a battle all day long and 14 innings of tough softball and our kids persevered so I can’t be any prouder of them.”
After starting off their first game of the day with a base on balls, a single to right field and another walk, FGCU starting pitcher Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) found herself in a jam against Maine with two outs in the top of first inning. Owen walked her third batter of the inning to allow Maine to jump out to an early 1-0 lead, but got the next batter to softly lineout to third for an inning ending out.
Regan Knapik (Land O’Lakes, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) led off the home half of the third with a sharp single to right field and took second base on a wild pitch with Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS) at the plate and no outs for FGCU. Williams reached first on a high chopper to third base to put two Eagle runners on. A Kelsey Carpenter (Ovideo, Fla./Hagerty HS) sacrifice would move over the two runners to put Eagles on second and third with one out and Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) at the dish. A Barnes groundout to second base was enough to bring Knapik home to tie the game at one and give FGCU its first run of the game.
After walking her seventh Black Bear of the day, Owen was replaced by Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) in the circle with no outs in the top of the fourth and would not let Maine close in on the lead.
After Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HSSHSHS) reached on a base hit, Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) drove a ball to the fence in left center field for a double and advanced on the throw to third to drive in Bembnowski and put FGCU up for the first time in the game, 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jessica Barnes stepped to the plate and drove a pitch up the middle to bring across Tori Williams from third to add an insurance run to make it 3-1 in favor of the Green and Blue.
Maine would make an effort to answer the FGCU comeback with one of their own in the top of the sixth with their first two batters reaching base and a wild pitch that put runners on second and third. An overthrow at first base by Josie would allow Maine to plate another run and close the gap. The Eagle infield would not allow another to cross as they used two groundouts and a lineout to hold onto their 3-2 lead, which sealed an FGCU victory in the first game of the day.
In game two for FGCU, the Eagles jumped out front early with four walks and a hit by pitch to grab hold of a 2-0 lead at the end of the first over Valparaiso.
The Crusaders worked to close the gap in the top half of the second as they loaded the bases with one out, but were only able to bring one runner in once the Eagle defense went to work. FGCU was not content with a one-run lead over the visitors so the Green and Blue added three runs on multiple extra base hits to give themselves a 5-1 advantage over Valparaiso.
After putting a runner on by error, a Valpo home run over the wall in left field drew them within four runs and put the score at 7-3. To prevent the Crusaders from generating any additional offense, Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS) entered in relief of Josie with an FGCU victory in her sights.
With no outs in the top of the sixth inning, Valparaiso loaded the bases against Morgan with three straight singles to bring the tying run to the plate. The Crusaders made sure they capitalized on the golden opportunity by bringing across seven runs in a multitude of ways to pull ahead of FGCU, 10-7, for the first time of the game.
FGCU worked to close the three-run gap and record a comeback win in the home half of the sixth by bringing across a run off of a Mariah Fernandez double to make it 10-8 heading into the seventh and final inning.
With a chance to walk off winners, the Eagles loaded the bases with two singles and a base on balls and with one out in the home half of the final inning, Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) stepped to the plate. A Zgrabik single up the middle make it 10-9 with Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) following it by reaching on a walk that tied it at 10 runs apiece. All that was needed was an RBI and Mariah Fernandez delivered with a single down the right field line to bring across Jessica Barnes and give FGCU an 11-10 walk-off win.
The Green and Blue will have two days before returning to the FGCU Softball Complex to take on in-state rival Stetson for a doubleheader matchup that will start Atlantic Sun play for FGCU on Saturday, March 16 at 2 p.m.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.