LAKELAND, FL – In a game dominated by pitching, it was shortstop Makayla Deuberry who struck the decisive blow in another game that seemed destined for extra innings. With neither team unable to score for more than 6½ innings Friday night, Florida Southern strung together three consecutive two-out singles in the bottom of the seventh, capped by Deuberry's game-winning hit as the Moccasins downed Eckerd 1-0 in the opener of a 3-game conference series.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Through the first 6½ innings, the two teams combined for just five hits, three by Florida Southern (7-3, 2-2 SSC) and two by Eckerd (3-9, 0-4) as pitchers Kelli Gault and Aubrey Ehlers for the Moccasins, and Nikole Van Gennep for the Tritons were in total control of the game. The Moccasins had just one runner reach scoring position prior to the seventh (the first batter of the game), and the Tritons had only three, all of them coming with two out in the fifth, sixth and seventh.
- The bottom of the seventh looked as if it might go the same way when Van Gennep retired the first two hitters on two pitches. Alli Carroll though broke a string of 12 consecutive outs by the Eckerd ace when she singled up the middle, and Zierra Flodman followed with another single that deflected off the third base bag and into left field, sending Carroll to third. That brought Deuberry to the plate with a chance to win the game and the junior shortstop came through with a single that fell just out of the reach of diving centerfielder Kaleigh Floyd.
- The Moccasins again received brilliant pitching from Gault and Ehlers, who combined on the 2-hit shutout, the fourth shutout by the Mocs this year, and the third by that combination. Gault went the first 4.2 innings and allowed both hits while striking out four and walking one. The first of those hits was an infield single by Crystal Garcia in the third, and the other came from Kayelee Newstrom in the fifth. When Floyd bunted Newstrom into scoring position, Florida Southern head coach Chris Bellotto turned to Ehlers, who hit a batter but also got the final out of the inning to keep the game scoreless.
- Ehlers had to work around an error in the sixth and an error in the seventh and got defensive help from Desirae Klumpp after the first one. With Chelsea Armstrong at second and two out in the top of the sixth, the Moccasin leftfielder made a sensational diving catch in short left to rob Carrie Shere of what would have likely been a go-ahead RBI single. Ehlers ended up pitching 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings to get the win, improving to 2-3 on the season.
- Van Gennep fell to 3-6 with the loss, even though she gave up just one run on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk. She gave up singles to Lindsey Wilson and Shannon Bell to start the game, but then retired 19 of the next 21 batters. She helped herself too with five assists, one of them a deflection on a ball hit up the middle by Jessica Trana in the third with a runner on first that turned into a double play.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Friday night's game marked the second 1-0 walk-off win in seven days for the Moccasins. They beat Tampa by that same score in 11 innings the previous Saturday, with Gault again starting and Ehlers again getting the win in relief.
- Flodman had two of the Moccasins' six hits, and Bell reached twice with a single and a walk.
- Van Gennep had the walk for Eckerd but saw her 8-game hitting streak end, as did an 8-game streak by Kensie Green. It also marked the second year in a row Van Gennep nearly shutout the Moccasins only to lose in the final inning. The junior hooked up with Kristen Beacham for nine scoreless innings last year in St. Petersburg before the Mocs scored four times in the top of the 10th.
UP NEXT: Florida Southern and Eckerd resume their series Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader at 1 p.m.