Melanie Murphy – Sports Lowdown photo Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

It’s early in the season, but the Florida Tech Panthers are off to an amazing start. They won twice on Saturday, in day two of the Florida Tech Invitational at the USSSA Space Coast Complex. Victories over North Georgia and Converse College extended the Panthers win streak to 12 games in a row and improved their overall record to 13-2.

Last year Melanie Murphy threw a no-hitter at Nancy Bottge Field. On Saturday, she improved on that, throwing a perfect game against the Nighthawks. The Panthers came into the game ranked 14th, while North Georgia was the third-ranked team in the country.

Murphy (5-2) took a no-hitter into the fifth inning last night against Columbus State and after the game, Panthers coach Val Silvestrini said she is getting better with every outing. She certainly proved that on Saturday.

The Florida Tech offense got Murphy a cushion before she even had to throw a pitch. Xiarysse Emerenciana greeted North Georgia starter Lauren Beshears with a bunt hit and quickly stole second. Tina Velazquez drew a walk and Silvestrini pulled the string on a double steal, putting runners at second and third.

Vanessa Rubio then hit into a fielder’s choice, and North Georgia couldn’t record an out, as Emerenciana scored to put the Panthers up 1-0. After Jaden Kline drew a walk to load the bases, Ally Carver and Alexus Smith hit back-to-back RBI singles to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead.

That was more than enough for Murphy, who had five strikeouts in her successful quest for softball immortality. She threw 95 pitches, 65 of those for strikes.

Florida Tech had five hits in this one and drew six walks, striking out only once as a team.

North Georgia, who lost their first game of the day to Palm Beach Atlantic, 6-4 suffered consecutive losses for the first time since the 2017 season.

For more info: North Georgia @ Florida Tech Box Score

Game two saw the Panthers take on the Converse College Cougars, who lost their first game of the day to Columbus State 13-3. They did not find any relief against the Panthers.

Jordan Lawlis got the start in the circle for the Panthers and she went the distance, improving her record to 4-0.

After leaving a runner stranded in the first, Florida Tech opened the floodgates in the second inning, scoring five runs against Valkyries starter Hailey Spitler. Smith had an RBI single, scoring Kline with an unearned run. Shanysse Emerenciana followed a three-run home run, scoring Carver and Smith ahead of her, giving the Panthers a 4-0 lead. Later in the inning, Cheyenne Nelson would triple and come home on a base knock by Xiarysse Emerenciana.

The Panthers would add another run in the third on a single by Smith that scored Kline, who had walked to lead off the frame, making it 6-2. Mikayla Wessell helped manufacture the Panthers seventh run when she beat out an infield single to start the fourth. She would then steal second and come home on a ground out by Xiarysse Emerenciana.

Converse (3-11) got on the board in the fifth inning with an RBI single by Marissa Martin. The Panthers final run of the night came in the bottom of the sixth. Xiarysse Emerenciana walked and stole second, and Alexis Clark knocked her in with a single to left, giving the Panthers an 8-1 lead.

The Cougars would score an unearned run in the seventh inning, but Lawlis would get a game-ending ground ball, stranding two Converse runners.

With that, Lawlis got the complete game victory. She allowed six hits and one earned run in her outing, striking out seven and walking three. She threw 136 pitches, 88 for strikes.

For more info: Converse @ Florida Tech Box Score

The FIT Invitational wraps up Sunday with the Panthers taking on Flagler at 10:00 a.m. and Georgia College at 12:30 p.m.

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