The Florida Tech Panthers (21-14) continued their winning ways Tuesday, sweeping the Columbus State Cougars in a doubleheader at Nancy Bottge Field. The Panthers have now won 14 of their last 17 games, after starting the season 7-11.
Fresh off her one-hit shutout on Saturday, Panthers hurler Melanie Murphy pitched game one Tuesday and held the Columbus State Cougars to three hits, helping the Panthers to the 1-0 win.
It was quite the pitcher’s duel between Murphy and her circle opponent Darby Demarest, who walked two in her first two innings but struck out four in a row bridging the second and third inning. Xiarysse Emerenciana singled with one out in the third, for the Panthers first hit.
Columbus State threatened in the top of the third with Kristin Studds getting hit by a pitch and Lee Anne Rees following with a single. A passed ball moved both runners up, but Murphy got a pop-up, a fly out and a foul out to get out of the inning.
Florida Tech (20-14) had a chance to answer in the bottom of the fifth when Shanysse Emerenciana singled and stole second. One out later, she tried to score on a Mikayla Wessel single but was thrown out at the plate, to end the inning.
Left fielder Jessica Callahan‘s defense helped Murphy in the top of the of the sixth, as she made a snow cone catch to get the first out and made a tough catch up against the tarp in foul territory for the third out. With that, Murphy had retired 12 in a row.
Demarest (8-6) got the first two outs in the bottom of the sixth before Makayla Palmer hit a fly ball to right that the wind took and it dropped in, allowing Palmer to get to second. Vanessa Rubio followed and hit one about 10 feet up the third baseline that landed fair and took a wicked hop into foul territory, allowing Palmer to score, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars did not go quietly in the top of the seventh. Elizabeth Perdue reached on a two-base error on a ball that Wessel and Carver ran into each other in the outfield. After Calli Star walked, Murphy came back to get a strikeout.
Kirstin Reynolds was next up and she singled, loading the bases for Kristin Studds. Studds hit a ball to left, into the glove of Lexi Bettermann, who replaced Callahan to start the inning. Bettermann came up throwing and threw Perdue out at the plate, ending the game in dramatic fashion.
For more info: Columbus State @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)
While The Panthers stellar pitching continued in game two with Krutsinger and Murphy, Ally Carver supplied the offense, as well as some defense.
Florida Tech got on the board in the bottom of the first after Xiarysse Emerenciana reached on an error on Snavely, who picked the ball up but had trouble getting it out of her glove. After stealing second, Emerenciana was sacrificed to third by Wessel and came home on a groundout by Carver, making it 1-0.
Carver then made an impact on defense, throwing Perdue out at first, on a quick throw from right field, to start the top of the second.
She wasn’t done on offense either. In the bottom of the third, Alexus Smith reached on an error and after Xiarysse Emerenciana walked to move her to second, Carver brought her home with an RBI single.
That was all the Panthers would need as Krutsinger walked one and struck out one over her five innings of work, facing only 16 batters. Murphy came in and gave up one hit in the sixth, to go along with two strikeouts and a hit in the seventh before getting Star to hit into a game-ending double play.
For more info: Columbus State @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)
Florida Tech will now travel to West Palm, to take on the Sailfish, who are 19-2 overall and leading the Sunshine State Conference with a 12-0 record. Friday’s series opener is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 1:00 p.m.