ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Having already come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game, and with the rain moving in, Florida Southern may have been playing with an extra sense of urgency in the latter stages of the series finale at Eckerd. Still tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh inning, the Moccasins made sure the weather wouldn't be a factor and completed the sweep by scoring on an illegal pitch and squeeze bunt for a 4-3 win over the Tritons.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Moccasins (7-3, 3-0 Sunshine State Conference) started the top of the seventh inning with Desirae Klumpp batting and for the second time in the game the junior outfielder was hit by a pitch. Her former teammate at Hillsborough Community College, Shannon Bell, then delivered a double to put runners at second and third with none out. That's when things got interesting for the Moccasins. As Erica Morrissey popped up for what appeared to be the first out of the inning, an illegal pitch was called against Nikole Van Gennep. That sent Morrissey back to the batter's box, Bell to third and Klumpp home with the tie-breaking run. Given new life, Morrissey then put down a perfect bunt that brought Bell in to score too, and the Mocs were up 4-2.
- The Moccasins also got a stellar relief outing from freshman pitcher Kelli Gault, who held the Tritons (7-9, 0-3) to two hits over the final four innings and got the win to improve to 3-0. The Tritons did use a single by Carrie Shere, two wild pitches and a ground out by Kaleigh Floyd to score against her in the bottom of the seventh, but Gault closed the door by striking out Crystal Garcia.
- Both Van Gennep and Florida Southern's Hannah Loyer retired the side in order in the first two innings, with the only thing close to a hit a was a ground ball off the bat of Florida Southern DP Alex Mace. Garcia made a nice play at shortstop when she back-handed it going to a knee and nipped Mace at first. That streak of consecutive outs ended when Van Gennep hit Klumpp with a 2-2 pitch with two out in the top of the third. Bell followed with the game's first hit and Morrissey walked, but the Moccasins left the bases loaded.
- Eckerd's first base runner was Shere, who led off the bottom of the third with her second home run of the season. The Tritons added another run in the inning when Garcia tripled and scored on a base hit by Rachael Luckett.
- Florida Southern evened things up in the top of the fifth on a 2-run single by Jessica Trana. The Mocs had runners on base after a hit by Klumpp and an Eckerd error and it could have been worse if not for Garcia at shortstop again. For the second time in the game Garcia went to her knee to backhand a ball and this time erased Klumpp on a force play at third for the first out of the inning.
- Prior to scoring the runs that won the game for them, the Moccasins had a chance to take the lead in the sixth inning after Makayla Deuberry singled with one out. For the second time in the series though, second baseman Kiley King caught a hard-hit line drive, this one hit by Donna Ryan, and turned it into an inning-ending double play.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Head coach Chris Bellotto has now surpassed former Florida State coach JoAnne Graf for the most wins among any collegiate softball coach in the state of Florida. Bellotto now has 1,189 career fast-pitch wins at Florida Southern while Graf won 1,186 games at Florida State from 1984-2008. No other college coach in Florida Atlanta's Joan Joyce is third on that list with 886 coming into Saturday. South Florida's Ken Eriksen is the only other active coach in Florida with more than 750.
- Bell, Trana and Deuberry all had two of Florida Southern's eight hits, and Klumpp had a perfect day at the plate with a hit and two HBPs.
- Gault (3-0) allowed one run on two hits with four strikeouts and two walks in her 4.0 innings in relief of Loyer. The Tritons had five hits as a team, two of them by Shere. Van Gennep fell to 4-7 with the loss though she gave up only two earned runs, struck out two and walked one.
- The Moccasins got wins from three different pitchers in the series, with Kristen Beacham and Brandi Jones winning in Friday night's doubleheader.
- Florida Southern will play its first home games of the season next weekend (Feb. 24-25) when it hosts Lynn in a 3-game conference series at the Auburndale Softball Complex. Friday night's single game begins at 7 p.m. and Saturday's doubleheader has a 1 p.m. start.