Softball: Owls keep momentum flying during weekend

Strong pitching and hitting lead to best start in team history


Junior pitcher Kylee Hanson delivers a pitch to the plate during the Owls’ 4-2 win over Penn State on Feb. 14. Ryan Lynch | Multimedia Editor

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

Florida Atlantic softball swept all four games of the Strike Out Cancer Tournament this weekend and improved to 9-0 — the team’s best start in school history.

The Owls outscored their opponents 25-3 over the weekend, including two games that ended via the eight-run mercy rule. Northern Illinois was FAU’s first opponent for both Friday and Saturday’s doubleheader, which led to two defeats for the Huskies by a margin of 8-0 and 6-2 respectively.

The other two teams to visit Boca Raton were the University of Connecticut and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

Connecticut gave FAU its closest matchup of the tournament in a 3-1 game that led to a tie heading into the final inning. Florida A&M was FAU’s last victim, falling to the undefeated Owls 8-0.

Pitching paved the way again for the Owls, who have given up a total of seven runs in the team’s first nine games. The staff was once again led by junior Kylee Hanson — ESPNW’s reigning Softball National Player of the Week.

Hanson recorded two wins and 15 strikeouts in seven innings on the mound. Junior Amanda Wilson recorded six strikeouts in four innings, sophomore Tatum Buckley picked up her second win of the year in a seven inning outing and freshman Mia Olson threw a complete game shutout to finish the weekend.

Here’s a recap of each game:

Game One: NIU 0, FAU 8 (5 Innings)

The first game of the weekend between FAU and Northern Illinois also happened to be the first game where the Owls mercy-ruled their opponents this year.

It took no time for the FAU bats to get rolling, as the team saw five runners cross home plate in the first inning. Junior Delaney Rickey and senior Christina Martinez started the rally with back-to-back infield hits.

Senior Carnesha Thompson then reached base via a throwing error after laying down a sacrifice bunt. Rickey scored on the play and Martinez advanced to third base.

Thompson then stole second base, and Martinez stole home.

Two batters later, senior second baseman Melissa Martinez singled in Thompson and sophomore Emily Lochten — who reached base on a fielder’s choice. The second baseman later advanced to third and scored on a Buckley sacrifice fly.

Junior Sarah Bencivenga knocked in Melissa Martinez for the Owls’ fifth and final run of the inning.

The Owls added two runs in both the second and eighth inning, including adding the final run of the game in the fourth.

The game was Hanson’s lone start of the weekend.

Game Two: FAU 3, UConn 1

The Owls were the away team in the second game of the doubleheader, which happened to be their closest scare of the weekend.

In Wilson’s only start, she struck out six Huskies over six innings of work before being replaced by Hanson in a 1-1 tie.

FAU struck first in the game and collected one run in the fourth inning when Thompson hit her second homerun of the season.

UConn tied the score in the bottom of the sixth when senior Lexi Gifford doubled to left field and scored after a pair of sacrifice bunts.

After a scoreless seventh inning, the Owls took a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning. Because of softball rules for extra innings, freshman Madisyn Palmer started the inning on second base and advanced to third after a Rickey sacrifice bunt.

With two outs and the bases empty, Thompson singled and stole second base. She then scored on a single by Lochten.

Hanson retired all three of the Huskies’ batters in the bottom of the eighth.

Game Three: FAU 6, NIU 2

After a night’s rest, Northern Illinois still had no answer for the FAU bats. Rickey scored the first run of the game after scoring on a Thompson doubleplay.

The Illinois Huskies scored two runs in the bottom of the second off Buckley, the only two runs she would allow in her seven innings of work.

The Owls were shut out in the second inning before putting up four runs in the third. Senior Mickey Bell was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and was pinch ran for by Samantha Lageyre — who then stole second base.

Freshman Lauren Whitt reached first base on an error, but Lageyre was out at home. Rickey and Christina Martinez followed up with a single and a throwing error respectively, loading the bases.

Two batters later, Lochten hit a grand slam, giving FAU a 5-0 lead.

Game Four: Florida A&M 0, FAU 8

In-state Florida A&M allowed the Owls to close out the weekend and clinch the best start in school history with relative ease.

Lochten led off a five-run second inning with a double to left-center field. Melissa Martinez walked and sophomore Alex Miller reached base on a fielder’s choice, scoring Lochten.

Sophomore Caitlin Hogue singled in two runs prior to a single by Palmer.

Hogue later scored on a wild pitch and Palmer scored after a Christina Martinez single.

The Owls added two runs in the fifth, and finished the game with their eighth and final run in the sixth inning. The support would prove to be more than enough for Olson, who allowed two hits in an eight strikeout shutout during the first start of her collegiate career .

The FAU Invitational will take place next weekend as the Owls play host to Michigan State University, Stony Brook University and Boston College. Stony Brook and Michigan State will be the Owls’ two opponents during Friday’s doubleheader, starting on Feb. 26 at 6 p.m.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.