Softball: Owls Eliminated in NCAA Regional Final

Host Florida Gators move on to super regionals

Junior+second+baseman+Melissa+Martinez+%283%29+is+welcomed+by+her+teammates+after+hitting+a+three-run+home+run+on+Feb.+8+vs+LIU.+Photo+by+Idalis+Streat
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Softball: Owls Eliminated in NCAA Regional Final

Junior second baseman Melissa Martinez (3) is welcomed by her teammates after hitting a three-run home run on Feb. 8 vs LIU. Photo by Idalis Streat

Junior second baseman Melissa Martinez (3) is welcomed by her teammates after hitting a three-run home run on Feb. 8 vs LIU. Photo by Idalis Streat

Junior second baseman Melissa Martinez (3) is welcomed by her teammates after hitting a three-run home run on Feb. 8 vs LIU. Photo by Idalis Streat

Junior second baseman Melissa Martinez (3) is welcomed by her teammates after hitting a three-run home run on Feb. 8 vs LIU. Photo by Idalis Streat

Ryan Lynch, Staff Writer

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Making it all the way to the final day of play at the NCAA Regional, the Florida Atlantic Softball team fell to regional host Florida Gators. The Owls were eliminated 1-0 in extra innings.

FAU finishes the season at 39-19-1. Florida (53-6) will now wait to see who their next opponents are in the following round. Here’s what you need to know from the Owls’ tournament run:

Game One:

Hofstra 1, FAU 0

Friday served as the opening game for the Owls, who faced the Hofstra Pride in their first NCAA tournament action in nine seasons.

Sophomore pitcher Kylee Hanson took the mound for the Owls, looking to start her team off with a win while trying to uphold her 1.58 ERA. Hanson pitched the entire game, giving up one run on four hits in seven innings of work.

However, Hanson did not get the run support she needed during her outing. The Owls’ batters left nine runners on base, struggling to drive in runs.

Senior leftfielder Lindsey Snell went 2-for-4, including a double, but it was not enough in the end to overcome the Pride. Hanson received the loss, her fifth of the season. Senior pitcher Taylor Pirone received the win for Hofstra, her 19th of the season.

Game Two:

FAU 7, Florida A&M 2

Saturday was win or go home for the Owls, who took on the Florida A&M Rattlers in the first elimination game of the regional.

Senior Samantha Messer started the game on the mound for the Owls. She delivered on her end of the bargain, throwing five innings while giving up four hits and two runs. She struck out six and walked three.

Lindsay Shell tripled to start up the offense for FAU in the bottom of the second, driving in a run and later scoring on a FAMU fielding error. The Owls held a 2-0 lead, but it wouldn’t last for long.

The Rattlers would come back with two runs of their own in the top of the third and fourth respectively, on a one-run home run from junior shortstop Jessi Nathan (third) and a double from sophomore pitcher Kenya Pereira (fourth) tied the score back at two.

FAU went on to respond in the fifth and sixth, giving the run support to Messer they couldn’t find the day before against Hofstra. The fifth inning saw junior third baseman Carnesha Thompson walk to reach base, later scoring on a throwing error by the right fielder. Freshman pitcher Tatum Buckley drove in the second run of the inning on a single, bolstering the Owls’ lead to 4-2.

In the sixth, a double by Thompson drove in a run, while a triple by junior second baseman Melissa Martinez drove in two more. The Owls would combine to have five hits and five runs in the final two innings, putting them up 7-2.

Freshman Veronica Burse pitched the final two-thirds of the sixth for the Rattlers and gave up no runs. Meanwhile, Buckley pitched the final two innings in no-hit fashion, giving up no runs while striking out two and walking two.

Messer earned the win, her 10th of the season. Buckley received the save for her effort, her second of the year. Pereira was tagged with the loss for the Rattlers, her 15th of the year.

With the loss, Florida A&M University was eliminated from the regional tournament, setting up a showdown for the final spot between Hofstra and FAU for a spot in the final.

Game Three:

FAU 3, Hofstra 2 (9)

FAU needed a win to stave off elimination once again, this time facing the team they had lost to already during the tournament.

Sophomore pitcher Amanda Wilson was slated to start for the Owls, and delivered a seven inning performance when her team needed it most. Wilson gave up two runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out two. She did not receive a decision (win, loss, or save) at the end of the game.

Hofstra  started the scoring with two runs in the second, coming on two straight Hofstra hits with a runner on base. Senior catcher Erin Trippi singled home a run while freshman designated hitter Megan Patierno doubled home one to put the Pride up 2-0.

FAU answered in the bottom of the third with two runs of their own. Christina Martinez drove in a run on a triple, and later scored on a wild pitch to draw the teams even at two.

With no runs being scored for the following four innings,the game was sent into extra innings.

After a quiet eighth, FAU came to bat in the ninth hoping to walk-off into the final. Christina Martinez walked, followed by a line out by senior first baseman Lauren Mann. With an out, Tatum Buckley singled to put runners on first and second. Freshman catcher Alex Miller delivered for the Owls, diving the game-winning run in on a double.

Kylee Wilson earned the win, her 18th of the season, which improved her record to 1-1 in tournament play. Senior Morgan Lashley earned the loss for the Pride, only her third of the year. Lashley pitched eight and a third for Hofstra, giving up three runs(including the game winner) on nine hits.

With the loss, Hofstra was eliminated.  FAU improved to 2-1-1 against Hofstra, and moved on to the final versus the Gators.

Game Four:

UF 1, FAU 0 (8)

Faced once again with the possibility of elimination, FAU had to win two times against the Gators to advance. What resulted was a pitching duel.

Amanda Wilson was set to pitch once again for the Owls, and once again she delivered a strong performance, giving up a run and four hits in eight innings of work.

Unfortunately for her team, Wilson’s counterpart pitched a little better. Senior Lauren Haeger tossed all eight frames for the Gators, giving up only two hits and no runs through the game.

FAU once again could not separate themselves from their opponent in regular innings for the second day in a row, once again needing extras.

In the bottom of the seventh, freshman shortstop Emily Lochten reached on an error. After  Lochten was sacrifice-bunted to second by Junior outfielder Melissa Martinez, Laura Mann was intentionally walked, giving the Owls their best chance to score of the day.

The Owls were unable to convert though, with the next two batters being retired (Buckley, Miller). The Gators took the lead in the top of the eighth, after Lauren Hager helped herself out with an RBI double to pull her team ahead 1-0.

FAU was retired in order in the bottom of the inning, leading to a Gator win and advance to the super regionals. Haeger received the win for UF, her 26th of the season. Wilson received the loss for the Owls, her fifth of the year.