Softball: Owls struggle to score runs over weekend, dropping three of five games

The team only lost twice in its previous 21 games


Sophomore pitcher Tatum Buckley warms up in the infield before the Owls’ game on Feb. 14 versus Penn State. Ryan Lynch | Multimedia Editor

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

The Florida Atlantic softball team limited its opponents to just six runs over the course of five games, but could only manage to pick up two victories.

After splitting Thursday’s doubleheader with Robert Morris University and beating Rutgers University in Saturday’s opener, the Owls (21-5) lost to the No. 17 ranked University of Minnesota and Long Island University Brooklyn.

FAU put seven runs on the scoreboard in each of its two victories. But in the three losses, the team could only manage a total of two runs — including finding itself on the wrong end of a perfect game on Saturday against Minnesota junior pitcher Sara Groenewegen.

Though the offense was stuck in the dark, FAU’s pitchers — junior Amanda Wilson, junior Kylee Hanson and sophomore Tatum Buckley — shined brightly. Neither pitcher allowed more than two runs. The most hits they allowed in a game was five.

“They’re both amazing pitchers,” Buckley said of her fellow hurlers. “That’s why we have a successful team, because our pitchers keep their balls low and ERA down.”

The Owls will head to Orlando to take on Purdue University and the University of Central Florida on Tuesday, March 15. The first game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Here is a recap of each game:

Game One: Robert Morris 2, FAU 1

Hanson dominated the Robert Morris offense for six innings on Thursday, allowing just one hit and striking out 12 batters. However, that stretch began in the second inning, not the first.

Neither of the first three batters were able to touch Hanson’s pitches as she sandwiched a hit by pitch with two strikeouts. Senior outfielder Ashley Gerhart then homered over the right field fence, taking an early 2-0 lead.

The Owls cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first inning, when sophomore shortstop Emily Lochten singled in senior center fielder Christina Martinez.

Robert Morris’ freshman pitcher Kaitlin Ellzy shut the Owls’ offense out in the following six innings, earning a 2-1 victory.

Game Two: Robert Morris 0, FAU 7

In a drastically different game than the last, the Owls jumped on the scoreboard early as they  scored five runs in the first three innings, including a three-run first.

Junior right fielder Delaney Rickey started the Owls’ half of the first inning in an unusual fashion — scoring on a slow ground ball to the pitcher. Freshman pitcher Lacee Collins picked up the ball, but missed the first baseman, allowing Rickey to attempt to advance all the way to third base. Then, senior right fielder Kristen Gabelt threw the ball past the third baseman, allowing Rickey to score.

The one run is all Wilson would need as she shut out Robert Morris, but the Owls continued to hit and score. Senior second baseman Melissa Martinez grounded out to shortstop and knocked in senior third baseman Carnesha Thompson for the Owls’ second run of the inning. Buckley then singled in Lochten, giving FAU a 3-0 lead.

Freshman left fielder Madisyn Palmer walked to begin the second inning, and then stole second and third base. She scored on a Rickey groundout.

Lochten led off the following inning with a double and scored on a Buckley single for the second time in the game.

Buckley finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

The Owls’ last two runs of the game were scored in the fifth inning when Palmer doubled, scoring freshman pinch runner Samantha Lageyre and Melissa Martinez.

Game Three: FAU 7, Rutgers 1

Buckley switched from her designated hitter role to start the first game on the mound for the Owls on Saturday. She allowed the one run and two hits over seven innings of work, improving to 6-0 on the year.

Thompson drove in Christina Martinez for the Owls’ first run of the game in the first inning, on a single to center field.

The team would add four more runs in the fourth inning. Melissa Martinez’ attempted sacrifice bunt started the scoring — she reached base safely via a throwing error, which scored both Lochten and Thompson. After Martinez scored the third run of the inning, Palmer singled and scored Lageyre.

Thompson finished the game with two hits, two walks and two runs scored. She also recorded one RBI.

Game Four: Minnesota 1, FAU 0

Hanson was plagued by a lack of offense for the second time in three days. However, unlike the first time, no FAU player reached base.

She allowed one run in seven innings of work, but was given the loss to fall to 8-3 on the season.

Minnesota scored its lone run of the game via a home run by senior right fielder Sydney Fabian. Groenewegen’s perfect game marked her 10th win of the season, tied for the second most in the country.

Game Five: LIU Brooklyn 2, FAU 1

Wilson was handed the ball for the weekend finale. She recorded six strikeouts while allowing two runs via four hits in her second loss of the season.

Trailing by two in the bottom of the seventh, the Owls attempted a comeback to prevent its third loss in five games — after losing only two games out of their  first 21 games. Thompson and Lochten led off the inning with a single and a walk respectively. Melissa Martinez advanced them to second and third, placing the tying run in scoring position with one out.

Thompson scored on a Buckley groundout, but Lochten was left stranded at third base as the Owls’ chances of tying the game fell 60 feet short.

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.