LAKELAND – In a pair of tense 1-run games with Hillsdale College in a Wednesday matinee, the entire Florida Southern pitching staff turned in another top-shelf performance to get the Moccasins two more wins. However, it took a pair of late-inning clutch hits from Zierra Flodman and Lindsey Wilson to make it happen. Flodman's 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning lifted Florida Southern to a 2-1 victory in game one, and in game two it was Wilson's 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth that gave the Mocs a 1-0 win.
Kristen Beacham was the first pitcher to take the ball Wednesday and went the distance in the opener to improve to 5-0 on the season. She allowed just one unearned run on five hits, had a career-high nine strikeouts and did not issue a walk. In game two, Aubrey Ehlers, Jenna Weldon, and Kelli Gault combined on the shutout, scattering eight hits between them but also not walking anyone while striking out four. Ehlers went the first three innings and had three of the strikeouts, Weldon pitched the fourth and fifth to earn the win, making her 3-0, and Gault went the final two innings for her second save while surviving a 1-out triple in the seventh that kept the outcome in doubt to the final pitch.
Hillsdale (4-4) pitchers Natalie Walters and Erin Hunt were every bit as effective but were saddled with a couple of tough losses. The two freshmen gave up just eight hits in the two games and two earned runs, and the only two hits allowed by Hunt in game two came in the fifth inning when the Moccasins (16-5) scored the only run.
The two wins officially moved head coach Chris Bellotto into a tie for second on the all-time Division II wins list with 1,215. (The NCAA only recognizes fast-pitch wins and does not count other forfeit wins.) Jan Hutchinson also won 1,215 games for Bloomsburg from 1978-2010.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- The Chargers scored first off Beacham by pushing a run across in the top of the third, using an error to put their first batter of the inning at second base. Infield singles by Katie Kish and Amanda Marra loaded the bases, and Kelsey Gockman made it three straight singles by punching one through the right side of the infield for a 1-0 lead. Beacham avoided further damage with a strikeout and a pop-up, and she was virtually untouched the rest of the game. She retired 14 of the final 15 batters, with only a hit by Gockman leading off the sixth to break up the streak.
- The Moccasins tied the game in the bottom of the fourth after Jessica Trana reached on a 1-out single. Kensie Green bunted pinch-runner Jordan Sheppard into scoring position, and Flodman followed with a line drive single into center. Sheppard, however, had to duck to avoid being hit and was forced to stop at third, but ended up scoring immediately after that anyway on a passed ball.
- Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Mocs got a leadoff single from Shannon Bell, and this time it was Trana putting down the sacrifice to get the runner into scoring position. Two batters later, Flodman singled up the middle, driving in Bell for the winning run.
- Walters, who had not been scored on in her first four appearances covering 8.0 innings, fell to 1-1 with the loss, even while allowing just two runs (one earned) on six hits. She had one walk and no strikeouts. Flodman and Desirae Klumpp each had two of the six hits against her.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- Florida Southern was largely handcuffed by Hunt in game two, and the Mocs were held without a hit through the first four innings. During that time they had walks from Klumpp in the first and Flodman in the fourth innings, but nothing else. Their only other baserunners came in the bottom of the fifth, and the Mocs used those to score the only run.
- Makayla Deuberry had Florida Southern's first hit in the game with a single into left-center and stole second on a pitch in the dirt that gave the Chargers no chance to even attempt a throw. Wilson then came up with two out and looped a pitch into short right-center that was fading fast and eluded center fielder Natalie Stepanenko who tried to make a running shoestring catch. That was enough to get Deuberry in from second with what proved to be the winning run.
- Hillsdale had runners on base in all but the fifth inning but never found a way to score against Ehlers, Weldon, and Gault. The Chargers out-hit the Moccasins 8-2, but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They stranded had runners at first and second with one out in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, or one time against each of the three Moccasin pitchers. The top of the sixth ended with Hillsdale attempting a double steal only to have Flodman easily throw out Stepanenko at third.
- In the top of the seventh, the Chargers got a 1-out triple from number nine hitter Victoria Addis. That meant Gault would have to face two .500-plus hitters at the top of the order to end the game, neither of whom had struck out this season. Needing to keep the ball on the infield, Gault got Kish to hit one right back to the pitcher's circle, allowing her to freeze pinch-runner Sarah Wojcik at third before throwing to first for the second out of the inning. Marra then grounded out to Weldon at third on the first pitch, and the Mocs had their sixth consecutive win.
- While Hillsdale had eight hits, including two apiece from Emma Johnson, Jessica Taylor, and Victoria Addis, the Mocs had only the two fifth-inning singles off Hunt, who dropped to 2-2 on the season. She struck out six and walked two.
- Weldon won for the third time in the last five games and had her second win as a relief pitcher. She gave up two of the Hillsdale hits in 2.0 innings with no strikeouts or walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Florida Southern has had seven shutouts this year in 21 games after having five last year. The Moccasins are also just one win shy of matching their total from 2017.
- The Moccasins have won four 1-0 games this season (Tampa, Eckerd, Wheeling Jesuit, and Hillsdale), and Deuberry has either singled and scored the winning run, or driven it in with a single.
- Wilson is 7-for-13 with five RBI in the last five games.
- Beacham has allowed just three runs (two earned) in her last 30.0 innings.
- The last time the Mocs won a game with two or fewer hits was March 15, 2014, against another school from Michigan, Wayne State. They had just one base runner in that one when Jordan Alexander reached on a 2-base throwing error to start the game, took third on a groundout, and came home on a wild pitch for a 1-0 win by the Moccasins.
- The last time Florida Southern allowed eight hits in a game but still got a shutout was March 2, 2013, and it was a complete game effort by Chelsea Oglevie in a 4-0 win at Eckerd. She too did not issue a walk.
- Florida Southern last won a doubleheader with only three total runs or fewer on March 18, 2001. Both of those wins over Rollins came by 1-0 scores behind Keltie Christian.
- The Moccasins are now 11-0 all-time against Hillsdale.
UP NEXT: Florida Southern opens a 3-game series with Rollins on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Moccasins and Tars will also play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.