2/8/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 135
2/8/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 57
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU Softball team had another impressive day at the FGCU Softball complex, taking both games of its doubleheader for the second-consecutive day to improve to 4-0. Jessica Barnes led off the afternoon with a home run over the left field wall and the Green and Blue never looked back as they defeated Western Kentucky 3-2 in game one and Liberty University 9-0.
Head coach Dave Deiros was thrilled with the effort from his team so far, especially his pitching. Deiros said, “Our pitching has done a fantastic job all weekend long keeping us in games. That’s what their job is. We are supposed to do a good job giving them run support. We finally got around to doing that. I like that we’re playing determined and that we’re playing focused in these tight ball games. That’s going to help us out later in the year when we get into our conference schedule, and hopefully into postseason”
Game 1 (Western Kentucky)
The Hilltoppers finished the first day of the tournament with two victories over Liberty and Ole Miss by the scores of 9-1 and 3-2, respectively and followed up on Saturday with a 6-0 defeat of Georgetown.
WKU’s starter in the circle, Emily Rousseau, started both games on Friday allowing just two runs over 11 innings, striking out eight. Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) spoiled Rousseau’s start early, lifting her second long bomb in as many days on just the third pitch of the game.
Freshman Taylor Wade (Pace, Fla./Pace HS) was given the pitching duties for the Eagles after closing Friday’s 3-2 nailbiter over Ole Miss. She started strong, retiring the first three batters in order. Wade held Western Kentucky hitless until Brooke Holloway dropped a bloop single into shallow left center in the top of the third. Olivia Watkins followed with a bunt single to put runners on first and second with just one out. After Wade struck out the next batter, Presile Cruce knocked a 0-2 pitch up the middle to tie the game at 1-1. The Hilltoppers took a 2-1 lead on an error at second base by freshman Jeanie Verderese (Jacksonville, Fla./Creekside HS). Verderese threw out the next base runner on the same play at home plate to end the inning.
The Hilltoppers threatened again the fourth as a line drive single up the middle by Amanda Thomas and throwing error by Wade put runners on the corner with nobody out. The Green and Blue escaped the jam with a ground out to the pitcher, a botched suicide bunt attempt and a ground out to second in quick succession.
The Eagles struggled to get anything going after they forced Rousseau to throw 24 first inning pitches. Following the Barnes home run, The WKU starter held the Green and Blue hitless until Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) laced a double into the left-center field gap to lead off the fourth. Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) bunted Carpenter to third, who advanced home to tie the game 2-2 on a throwing error from Rousseau.
Barnes recorded her second hit of the evening, smashing a triple to the right field wall to kick off the 5th frame and came in on a hard single down the third base line by Makensie McAvoy (Plant City, Fla./Plant City HS) to give the Eagles a 3-2 edge.
That lead would hold for the Eagles as they toppled the previously undefeated Hilltoppers to claim their third-consecutive victory. Wade went the distance to get the win for the Green and Blue, her first of the season.
Game 2 (Liberty)
Liberty lost both of both Friday games, falling to Western Kentucky 9-1 and to Georgetown 4-3. The Lady Flames would fall 5-1 in their Saturday tilt with Ole Miss.
In game two of their doubleheader, the Eagles sent Junior Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Sante Fe HS) to the circle for her first game back from last year’s season ending bicep injury and escaped the first inning of her first start thanks to a stellar two-out diving stop by third baseman Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) to prevent the run from scoring.
The Eagles jumped on Liberty pitcher Annah Jo Brittingham early, putting runners on first and third to lead off the first inning. The Lady Flames recorded two outs and had a chance to get out of the inning before Lanier sent a hard grounder up the middle to drive in the Green and Blue’s first run.
Two quick singles and a walk in the bottom of the third loaded the bases for the FGCU. After she crushed a pitch just foul, Alexis “Louie” Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS/Daytona State College) took a walk to bring a runner home and give FGCU a 2-0 advantage. Ross was Brittingham’s last batter, as Liberty head coach Dot Richardson decided to replace the sophomore with Alyssa DiMartino.
Britney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) blasted a double down the left field line to clear the bases and give the Green and Blue at 5-0 lead. Barnes continued her impressive weekend with a hard hit ball to deep right center that bounced off the center fielder’s glove to extend the FGCU lead to seven. Not content, McAvoy worked a walk followed by a Carpenter double to left center to make it 9-0. The final count in the lengthy third for the Eagles was an astounding 3 walks, 5 hits and 8 runs with the help of two errors.
That score would hold up for the Eagles as Morgan closed out the mercy rule shortened game in five innings to record her first triumph of the season. The Eagles improve to 4—0 in 2014 and snagged the top seed of the tournament and will play for the championship on Sunday.