4/26/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 186
4/26/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 388
FORT MYERS, Fla. - In the first two games of the final home series of the year, the FGCU softball team dropped a pair of key conference games Saturday against Mercer University. With the losses, the Green and Blue dropped to 28-23-1 on the year and dipped to below .500 in conference games, falling to 11-12.
The Bears took the first game 5-1 before shutting down the Eagles 7-1 in game two.
“Mercer took it to us today and we didn’t do a good job of responding,” said head coach David Deiros. “We’ve got a game tomorrow to go ahead and do a better job.”
Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake High School) had a solid day for the Green and Blue, recording the only FGCU RBI in game one. The third basemen finished the day with three hits in six at-bats.
The Bears jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Mercer center-fielder McKenzie Woody knocked a hard grounder into shallow right. Woody was credited with a single and advanced to second on an errant throw. Later in the inning, first basemen Caroline Taylor drilled a pitch up the middle to drive in Woody.
In the top of the third, two wild pitches contributed to the Bears adding two more runs to take a three-run lead. Haney and Kennedy collected RBI’s for the Mercer squad on a ground out and single respectively.
The Eagles got on the board in the fourth when on powerful double from Bembnowski drove in Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty High School). The Green and Blue had a chance to rally, with Bembnowski on second and no one out, but Mercer starter Kirsten Stevens got three quick outs to preserve the lead.
The Bears took advantage of another FGCU error to tack on another two runs in the top of the sixth frame. The score would hold as Mercer took the first game of the doubleheader, 5-1.
Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe High School) was pegged with the loss, hurling six innings and allowing five runs, only three earned, on eight hits.
Much like game one, the Bears jumped ahead early. This time in the top of the third, Mercer opened the frame with a groundball single up the middle from left fielder Riley Carter. Third basemen Kaylynn Sloat followed that up with a laser to left that reached the fence to drive in Carter. A sacrifice bunt advanced Sloat third before a close call resulted in another Mercer run. Woody slapped a ground ball that bounced right to first basemen Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver High School). She fired it home to attempt and nab Sloat. While the throw reached home prior to Sloat, she slid under the tag to score the Bear’s second run of the inning.
The Eagles nearly responded in the bottom half of the third inning. Garabedian got on base with a single to lead off the inning and advanced on a ground ball from Jeanie Verderese (Jacksonville, Fla./Creekside High School). After the Bears recorded another out, Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City High School) smashed a line drive that was slowed but not caught by diving short stop, Krista Kennedy. Garabedian attempted to come home but was thwarted by an impressive throw from Mercer center-fielder.
The Bears broke the game open in the top of the fourth. Miller earned the first RBI of the inning with a double to the left side. Mercer continued to threaten, loading the bases with two outs in the frame. Haney came up with the big hit of the inning, a deep double to the right field fence that cleared the bases and put the Bears up 6-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, a single from Bembnowski, a Mercer error and a walk loaded the bases for the Eagles with just one out. Bears starter Julia Rice was able to induce a ground out at home plate before walking Barnes to plate the Eagles lone run of the game. That was all the Green and Blue could muster as the Eagles recorded their final outs without adding more runs.
Sloat added a solo home run that banged of the scoreboard in left to extend the lead to 7-1.
Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero High School) was credited with the loss as she allowed six runs to score on five hits in four complete innings. Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers High School) tossed three innings for FGCU and allowed one run to score on one hit and four walks.
The Eagles will conclude the three-game series with Mercer with a noon bout on Sunday. Prior to the contest, the team’s seniors will be honored in a senior day ceremony. The Green and Blue will travel to Northern Kentucky (3-37; 1-19 A-Sun) for a three-game series next weekend to conclude regular season action. The Eagles and the Norse will begin the matchup Saturday, May 3 with the first pitch of the series scheduled for 12 p.m.