The FGCU softball team earned a chance for a rematch with USC-Upstate in the Atlantic Sun softball championship, but the result was the same as a year ago.
Needing two wins over Upstate Saturday, the Spartans took the title in just one, with an 8-0 win in five innings clinching their fourth straight conference tournament crown.
“It was a great effort all weekend long,” coach David Deiros said. “We knocked out three teams from the tournament, we just ran into a buzzsaw and in some cases, we couldn’t get out of our way. They put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t do the things we wanted to do at that time.”
The Spartans never trailed, taking a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Ryan Rector scored on a throwing error, then Kendsey Chappelear hit a single to right to tack on another run.
FGCU(30-30) struggled to get runners into scoring position all afternoon, but had a chance in the fifth inning with runners on second and third for Natalie Lopez with two outs. Spartans pitcher Lexi Shubert(19-4) struck out Lopez, part of a day with three hits and two walks allowed in five innings, her third strikeout of the day to retire the side.
Upstate(44-11) wouldn’t give the Eagles another chance.
Megan Obier hit a bases clearing triple in the bottom of the fifth, opening up a 5-0 lead. Two batters later Abbie Millete hit a two-RBI single, and Karla Beasley hitting another RBI single two batters after that, drawing the mercy rule and the title.
Sophomore Riley Randolph(18-11) was charged with the loss, giving up two runs, none of them earned, of a pair of hits and a walk in four innings.
BASEBALL CLINCHES A-SUN TOURNEY BERTH
Despite a midseason swoon, the Eagles will still have an opportunity to play for their first NCAA Tournament bid.
The Eagles assured themselves a spot in the six-team Atlantic Sun Championship Saturday by polishing off Lipscomb in a doubleheader as part of a series sweep, 9-6 and 14-7, in their final games at Swanson Stadium this season.
“It’s really good, especially at this time of year, to see the offense hitting the ball all over the park. It’s a great way for the seniors to go out,” coach Dave Tollett said. “You’re remembered by your last act, and they went out winners tonight at Swanson Stadium. We aren’t too concerned with where we end up in the conference, we’re just happy to get in. Once you’re in, anything can happen.”
A five-run eighth inning in the late game put it out of reach for the Eagles(34-16, 10-8 ASUN), capped by a three-run jack to right field by senior first baseman Corey Fehribach. Fehribach had four RBIs in the nightcap, three more in the day game.
FGCU travels to Miami on Tuesday for the last of three mid-week games with the Hurricanes, the Eagles having won both matchups earlier this season, before a weekend series at Kennesaw State.
The ASUN Championship starts May 24 in DeLand.
TENNIS FALLS TO FLORIDA IN NCAA
Two years ago the FGCU men’s tennis team traveled out to UCLA for their NCAA tournament debut.
This year’s trip was shorter, but the stay lasted the game.
Florida was too much for the Eagles in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Gators taking the match 4-0.
Andres Alfonso, the Eagles lone senior, and Ezequiel Cerrini dropped a doubles match to Florida’s Maxx Lipman and Elliot Orkin, 6-1, while Joshua Wardell and Chase Perez-Blanco clinched the doubles point for UF with a 6-3 win over Mateo Ruiz and Javier Fernandez.
On the singles courts, No. 9 ranked singles player Alfredo Perez dropped Felipe Ramirez in straight sets, with McClain Kessler doing the same to Alfonso. When Perez-Blanco dropped Cerrini, 6-4, 6-2, that locked it up for Florida.
Fernandez managed to take a set off Johannes Ingildsen, 6-4, and were going into the decisive third set after Inglidsen’s 6-1 second set when the match was called.
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