BOCA RATON – In her 35 years as Florida Southern's head softball coach, Chris Bellotto has experienced many things, but a tie game was not on the list – until Saturday, at least for now. After the Moccasins scored two runs in the late innings to win game one 5-3, another late-inning comeback in game two resulted in a 4-4 tie when darkness halted play after 10 innings.
Both teams scored two runs in the first inning of game one, and were tied 3-3 through four. The Moccasins were finally able to take the lead for good with single runs in the fifth and sixth, with RBI singles by freshman Jessica Trana and senior Jordan Alexander providing them.
In the second game, the Moccasins trailed 4-1 before scoring one in the sixth and two in the seventh to force extra innings. When neither team was able to score again, darkness forced the umpires to call the game. The teams will reach an agreement on a date later in the season to complete the game.
Florida Southern jumped out to an early lead in game one after Alexander reached on a dropped throw at first base and ended up at second base on the play to provide Erica Morrissey with an RBI opportunity. The junior from Mulberry delivered with a double down the leftfield line, and two batters into the game the Mocs were up 1-0. Morrissey then scored on a single by senior Maggie Roberts to make it 2-0.
Lynn came right back in the bottom of the first, using three hits and two walks to tie the game 2-2. One of those hits was a 2-out bunt single by Sara Vazquez that drove in the Knights' first run, and a bases-loaded walk to Francais Olexa forced in the second one.
After the Knights left the bases loaded again in the bottom of the second, this time without scoring, the Moccasins went ahead 3-2 in the top of the third. It was Alexander who scored her second run of the game following a leadoff walk, with a 2-out bunt single by junior Dana Mackiewicz bringing her home in similar fashion to the Knights' first run of the game.
The Knights tied the score for the second time when Leanne Wright homered over the leftfield fence in the bottom of the fourth. It was Wright's fourth career home run against the Moccasins in her three seasons at Lynn. That was all the scoring for Lynn though as the Mocs immediately answered with one run in the top of the fifth and another in the top of the sixth.
The go-ahead run scored when Morrissey led off the fifth with a single into right center, took second on a ground out by Roberts, and came home on a 2-out single to center by Trana. In the sixth, a leadoff walk by junior Beri Scott turned into the final run which was driven in by an Alexander single down the line in left.
Leading 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, the Moccasins got two big plays on defense to close out the win. The first of those was made by Alexander in center. It was the second day in a row the senior from Valrico made a long running catch while going to the ground in short right center to take a hit away from the Knights. After the Knights put two on with one out, it was Makayla Deuberry's turn. On a ball hit up the middle by Madison White, the freshman shortstop made a sliding stop to take another hit away from the Knights and flipped the ball to Scott at second base in time for a force out.
Junior Sydney Koch went the distance for the win to improve to 3-0 on the season. She gave up 10 hits, walked five and struck out two, but her pitching line was a bit deceptive. The Knights beat out three bunt singles and had two other infield hits as well. She forced them to strand 10 base runners through the first four innings, but allowed only three base runners over the final three innings, with one of those on an error.
The Moccasins had 11 hits off Olexa (2-5), with Morrissey, Trana, Mackiewicz, and junior Erin Klein all picking up two.
Florida Southern also got off to a good start in game two with a single by Trana driving in freshman Zierra Flodman, who had also singled and moved to third on a double by Roberts. Trana's hit, however, was the last for Florida Southern until Alexander led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run.
The Knights gave Key four runs to work with in the bottom of the first inning, collecting four hits but they were helped too by three Moccasin errors and a walk to Kaitlin Conrad that started the game for Lynn. A squeeze bunt by Victoria Rios got Conrad in with the tying run and two batters later a double by Elizabeth Diaz drove in two more runs. Olexa made it 4-1 with an RBI single before Moccasin starting pitcher Brandi Jones ended the first inning with a strikeout.
From there, Jones kept Lynn off the scoreboard over the next four innings before giving way to Hannah Loyer to start the sixth. That's when Florida Southern mounted a comeback which started with Alexander's blast to centerfield that brought the Mocs within 4-2. Loyer had an impressive game in relief, pitching 5.0 scoreless innings and allowing only two hits. She struck out seven and walked two, giving the Mocs a chance to first tie, and then win the game.
Trana and Mackiewicz then started the top of the seventh with back-to-back singles and were bunted along by Deuberry. Second baseman Sara Vazquez took the throw at first base for the out but when she tried to catch pinch-runner Jordan Sheppard at third, her throw was off the mark and it allowed Sheppard to score and Mackiewicz to take third. Two batters after that, Klein hit a slow bouncer down the line at third that was good enough for an infield single and a run as Mackiewicz crossed the plate to tie the game at 4-4. That brought Alexander to the plate with two out and she nearly hit her second home run of the game, but it tailed away foul before she flied out to center.
Alexander's near game-winning home run was indicative of the way the second game of the doubleheader went for Florida Southern. The Moccasins were cursed with a number of hard-hit balls that found the gloves of Lynn defenders, including three by Morrissey. One of those was caught by Wright with her back to the fence in left on the very next pitch following Alexander's home run in the sixth.
Mackiewicz suffered a similar fate in the third inning, and Trana and Deuberry both hit scalding shots to either third base or second base that resulted in outs. Morrissey had another chance to possibly win the game with two out in the ninth inning only to have shortstop Caitlin Conrad go behind the bag to play the ball and get the force out at second with the bases loaded.
Florida Southern will return home for its next game when it hosts Flagler in a doubleheader Tuesday at 5 p.m.