Melinda Rule had an RBI triple in the top of the seventh on Friday, sending the fifth-ranked Florida Tech Panthers past the Florida Southern Moccasins 3-2 and completing the Panthers three-game sweep of the Moccasins. The victory is the sixth in a row for Florida Tech.
With the win, the Panthers improved their overall record to 36-10, including 20-7 in the Sunshine State Conference. They remain in a first-place tie with Tampa in the SSC.
Jordan Lawlis (7-2) picked up her second win of the series, pitching four innings of scoreless relief. Starter Melanie Murphy gave up six hits in her three innings of work, but Lawlis picked her up, allowing four hits and striking out three.
FSC (15-27, 7-23 SSC) got on the board first in the bottom of the second, thanks to a Meghan Sexton RBI double, scoring Zierra Flodman.
Florida Tech answered with a run in the top of the third against FSC starter Aubrey Elhers (13-14) when Jaden Kline knocked home Mikayla Wessel with the tying run. The inning could have been bigger, but with runners at second and third, the Panthers attempted a double steal and it turned into a 2-6-2 double play, as both Kline and Cheyenne Nelson were erased.
The Mocs’ came right back with a run in the bottom of the frame, as Jenna Weldon came through with a bases-loaded single, giving the home team a 2-1 lead.
It took one swing of the bat from Vanessa Rubio to tie the game, as she led off the fourth with a shot over the left-center field wall, tying the game 2-2. It was her second homer of the season.
Murphy was then lifted for Lawlis to start the bottom of the fourth. Murphy struck out one and walked one, throwing 39 of her 60 pitches for strikes.
Florida Tech threatened in the fifth, getting runners to second and third with nobody out. FSC reliever Kelli Gault worked in and out of trouble, getting the next three outs.
Florida Southern rallied with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, getting runners to first and second. Jadin Dewith then hit a ball to third that was just inches foul, according to the home plate umpire. Instead of Dewith knocking in the go-ahead run, she would groundout moments later to end the inning.
That set the stage for the pivotal seventh inning. After Victoria Szrom singled, she was lifted in favor of Katrina Hand. Hand got her workout immediately, as Rule roped one to right-center, scoring Hand with the decisive third run of the game.
Makayla Deuberry was the first batter in the seventh for Florida Southern. Lawlis fell behind 3-0 before getting her to fly out. After getting Jessica Trana to groundout, Flodman singled to keep the game going. Flodman finished with a career-best 4-for-4 day, getting two of the four hits Lawlis allowed. The game ended moments later when Alex Mace hit into a fielder’s choice.
Lawis allowed four hits and struck out three, without walking a batter. She threw 40 of her 55 pitches for strikes.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Florida Southern Box Score
Florida Tech will return home on Thursday, April 25, to host Eckerd in the final regular-season series. Thursday’s doubleheader is slated for a 3:00 p.m. The final game of the series will happen Friday, as the Panthers celebrate Senior Day, before their 1:00 p.m. regular season finale.