4/5/2014 | Fort MYers, Fla. | Attendance: 0
4/5/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 154
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The FGCU softball team took a pair of games with conference opponent Kennesaw State in a matinee double header Saturday afternoon at the FGCU Softball Complex. The Eagles earned a 3-1 win in game one before taking the second game by the same 3-1 score. The Eagles improved to 22-18-1 on the year and 6-8 in Atlantic Sun play.
“We got two big wins today with great efforts in the circle by both Shelby [Morgan] and Amanda [Josie],” said head coach David Deiros. “Our defense played very well, they did a nice job—especially early in the first game—of limiting damage. That was the difference in the ball game. We kept it close and let our offense get a chance to go ahead and come around and that’s what we were able to do in both games.”
The Eagles offense was highlighted by strong performances from Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla/Venice High School) and Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty High School). Carpenter had two hits in five at-bats, but accounted for a third of the Green and Blue’s runs on the day and also added an RBI. Senior catcher Zgrabik went 3-for-4 on the afternoon, knocking in two RBI’s and scoring a run herself.
Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Sante Fe High School) took the circle for the Eagles in game one of the double-header. The junior got into a jam early in the first frame when an error and an infield single put runners on first and second with no outs. A grounder to first advanced both runners before the right-hander buckled down for the last two outs with a strikeout out and a quick line out to left.
The Eagles took advantage of early control problems from Owl starter Amanda Henderson. The senior hit first batter Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School) and walked Makensie McAvoy (Plant City, Fla./Plant City High School) to put two runners on. Cleanup up hitter Zgrabik came through for the Eagles, knocking a ground ball up the middle to score the Green and Blue’s first run of the day. Henderson was able to get a ground out and a strikeout to escape the inning, but the damage was already done.
The Owls responded with a run of their own in the top of the third. Junior outfielder Natalie Rhodes led off the inning with a line drive just inches over the outstretched glove of Eagles’ second basemen Jeanie Verderese (Jacksonville, Fla./Creekside High School). Owl freshman Taylor Denton followed with a bunt single to put two on. After Rhodes advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, Kennesaw catcher Angie Dascoli knocked a single to left field to score Rhodes and even the game at one.
The tie game was short lived as Owl starter Henderson got two quick outs in the bottom of the third before her previous control issues cropped up again. With the bases empty, the 5-5 senior walked both Carpenter and Zgrabik giving Louie Ross (Cape Coral, Fla./Ida S. Baker High School) a chance to give the Eagles the lead. The sophomore came through for the Green and Blue, drilling a liner to shallow center to plate Carpenter and give the FGCU the 2-1 lead.
Barnes tacked on another run for the Eagles in the bottom of the sixth frame when she blasted a solo shot just over the 200 foot sign in left field. The 3-1 advantage would prove to be enough as the Eagles clinched the first game of the double-header.
Morgan went the distance for the Green and Blue, retiring the Owls in order in the seventh to close it out. Morgan improved to 8-5 on the season, allowing eight hits and striking out three over seven dominant innings.
The Owls struck first in game two. Van Auken knocked a soft liner into shallow center field to get on base with one out in the top of the third. Rhodes followed with a deep single over first to put runners on the corners. Denton powered a fly ball deep to center field and Van Auken was able to tag up on the sacrifice fly to score the Owls first run.
Verderese got the Eagles on base in the bottom half of the third, smoking a liner down the left field line for a single. A sac bunt and a grounder to the right side advanced the freshman to third. With two outs, McAvoy was hit by a pitch before Carpenter dropped a bloop single into left-center to drive in the Green and Blue’s first run of the second game. The Eagles loaded the bases after Zgrabik was hit by a pitch, but a lunging catch by shortstop Missy Perkowski preserved the 1-1 tie.
The Eagles jumped ahead in the fifth frame. Carpenter got on base with infield single to set up Zgrabik. The catcher sent a moonshot over the fence in left to put FGCU up 3-1.
That lead was enough for Josie, as the senior held the Owls scoreless for the last four innings en route to the complete game triumph. Josie allowed just five hits, struck out two and walked none to improve to 7-6 on the season.
FGCU will return to the FGCU Softball Complex to play final game of the series against Kennesaw State (18-21; 7-9 A-Sun). The Eagles and Owls will kick off the game Sunday, April 6, with the first pitch of the scheduled for 1 p.m.
Tickets for all FGCU softball games are available at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children. Tickets provide entrance to the entire day of the tournament. For more ticket information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call or visit the ticket office at 239-590-7145.