Florida Tech softball (38-10, 22-7 SSC) did their part on Thursday, sweeping a doubleheader from Eckerd at Nancy Bottge Field in Melbourne. Game one did not see a run on the board until the sixth inning, and the Panthers walked off in game two, thanks to an error. When all was said and done, the Panthers had a pair of 1-0 wins.
Melanie Murphy (20-5) pitched her 17th complete-game of the season in game one, throwing a three-hitter against the Tritons. She struck out six and did not walk a batter, throwing 82 pitches, 62 for strikes. In game two, she threw two pitches in the seventh inning, recording two outs and that was enough to earn her the win, with the Panthers scoring in their half of the inning.
Murphy had a perfect game through four innings, before hitting Kaylin Kramer with a pitch. An error and a passed ball moved the runners to second and third, but Murphy struck out two batters with a pop out sandwiched in between, to get out of the inning.
The Panthers had their chances throughout this game against Nikole Van Gennep. They loaded the bases in the first inning but came up empty. They would leave seven on base through the first three innings.
Vanessa Rubio doubled in the fifth inning, but the Panthers would again leave runners at second and third. Murphy would allow a single to Ally Costa in the top of the sixth, breaking up Murphy’s no-hit bid.
Panthers coach Val Silvestrini has talked a lot this year about her team playing a lot of small-ball, moving runners over and getting them in. They struggled through the first five innings of this game, but in the sixth, finally got the job done.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Mikayla Wessel reached on an infield single, extending her hitting streak to 11 games. Cheyenne Nelson and Xiarysse Emerenciana followed with consecutive singles, loading the bases. Kline would bring Wessel home with a sacrifice fly to right, making it 1-0.
Eckerd tried for a seventh-inning rally, as they got two consecutive singles with two outs. Murphy ended the threat, getting Jessica Wilson to fly out.
For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 1)
Van Gennep took the loss in game one, despite her complete-game performance that saw her give up seven hits and three strikeouts. She threw 116 pitches in game one, and she was rewarded with a start in game two.
Jordan Lawlis was in the circle for game two for the Panthers, and just as it was in game one, the second game was a pitchers’ duel throughout.
After leaving 12 runners on base in game one, the Panthers started out leaving one on in the first and two more in the second. Wessel did get an infield hit in the second, extending her hitting streak to 12 games. Unfortunately, the Panthers couldn’t score despite having the bases loaded.
Eckerd (18-29, 10-19 SSC) had their best chance of the day in the sixth inning. With one out, Skylar Reddish singled and Lawlis hit Kaylin Kramer with a pitch. Kassy Torres sac bunt moved the runners to second and third. Meredith McGinnis was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Lawlis came back to get Avery Wakefield to groundout and end the inning.
The game was still scoreless, heading to the seventh. After Jessica Wilson singled to start the inning, she was sacrificed to second. That was enough for Silvestrini to call on Murphy. After a flyout by Gennep got Wilson to third, Murphy got Ally Costa to groundout, ending the Tritons half of the inning.
Lawlis allowed four hits in 6.1 innings, walking two and striking out one. She threw 103 pitches, 62 for strikes.
Wessel started the bottom of the frame with a single, her second hit of the day. Nelson hot one to third, the ball was fielded, but the throw was wild. Wessel just kept chugging and she got the go-ahead from Sivestrini around third, and beat the throw home, giving the Panthers a walk-off victory.
For more info: Eckerd @ Florida Tech Box Score (Game 2)
With the sweep, the Panthers overtook Tampa for first place in the Sunshine State Conference, but the Spartans will tangle with third place Saint Leo later tonight in the first game of their three-game series. You can follow us on Twitter @Sports_lowdown for updates on that game.
The Panthers wrap up their regular season Friday afternoon at 11:00 a.m. against Eckerd. The game will be preceded by Senior Day festivities at around 10:45 or so.