LAKELAND, FLA. – In case it hasn't been noticed outside of the Florida Southern softball family, Makayla Deuberry has developed a knack for this sort of thing. Big hits in the late innings, walk-off wins. That sort of thing. She did it again Wednesday night. Deuberry's squeeze bunt in the bottom of the eighth inning gave Florida Southern a 3-2 win over Flagler after the Saints had rallied in game one for an extra-inning win of their own, downing the Moccasins 6-2 in another eight-inning game.
Wednesday night marked Florida Southern's first high-drama win of the season, but last year Deuberry seemed to be in the middle of every late-inning victory the Mocs had. In their first win at Chris Bellotto Field, Deuberry singled and scored in the bottom of the 11th for a 1-0 victory over Tampa. One week later against Eckerd in the bottom of the seventh, she came up with a two-out RBI single for another 1-0 win. A comeback win at Lynn saw Deuberry hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the tying run in the top of the sixth. She then broke up a no-hitter in the late innings against Hillsdale and scored the winning run in a 1-0 victory, and had a sacrifice bunt that pushed the winning run into scoring position for a walk-off win over Ursuline a few days later. She also had hits and/or scored in two walk-off wins as a freshman and sophomore.
Wednesday night was more of the same when the Moccasins went to extra innings in game two against Flagler after surrendering the lead in the top of the seventh. Tied 2-2, the Mocs got a leadoff walk from freshman Maddi Conner, and when Lindsey Wilson reached on an error, Conner went all the way to third. Two batters later, Deuberry put down a bunt with Conner charging down the line and the Saints were unable to make a play at the plate, giving Florida Southern the win.
If Deuberry has an equivalent on the Mocs' pitching staff it might be Aubrey Ehlers. The senior has put together a list of warrior-like efforts in a little over one season with the team, and Wednesday night was another example. With the Mocs down to two pitchers for the doubleheader, Ehlers started both games, left and re-entered the second, and pitched a total of 11.2 innings with 171 pitches. She gave up just three runs on 12 hits, with only two of them earned, and got the win in game two after coming back in with one out in the top of seventh and getting two outs with the potential winning run at second.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- Florida Southern took a 2-0 lead in game one with two runs in the bottom of the third. Singles by Celia Higgins and Meghan Sexton put runners at first and third with two out, and back-to-back singles by Zierra Flodman and Jessica Trana got them in.
- Ehlers, meanwhile, kept Flagler off the board for the first five innings, with the Saints' only serious threat during that time coming in the top of the third. A walk to Megan Miller and base hit by Garland Evans put runners at first and third with one out, but Ehlers froze Miller at third on a come-backer hit by Tatum Morgan, getting out number two, and Higgins scooped up a ground ball at third for the final out of the inning.
- The Mocs stranded a pair of runners in the fourth after hits by Wilson and Deuberry, and Flodman was erased on a double play to end the fifth after another hit, leaving it a 2-0 game going into the sixth. That's when the Saints got to Ehlers for two runs to tie the game. They scored on back-to-back one-out singles by Maria Kappos and Genevieve Mangini, and it forced Kelli Gault into the game with the bases loaded. Gault got a shallow fly ball to left and a grounder to first, keeping the score tied 2-2.
- Both teams had a chance to take the lead and the win in the seventh inning, but the Saints could not take advantage of an error and a walk, and the Mocs left the bases loaded. Florida Southern got singles from Jadin Dewith and Trana, along with a walk from Flodman in between, but Flagler third baseman Tatum Morgan fielded a hard-hit ground ball by Conner and stepped on the bag for the final out of the inning.
- Flagler ended up scoring four runs in the top of the eighth after Mangini led things off with a single and slid safely into second when the Mocs tried for a force play on a bunt by NaJah Gerrald. After a ground ball moved both runners into scoring position, Miller drove both of them in with a single that bounced over the head of Gault and trickled between the two middle infielders into centerfield. The Saints tacked on two more runs on an RBI triple by Evans and a ground ball by Morgan.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME ONE:
- Garland had three of Flagler's 10 hits out of the leadoff spot, and Mangini went 3-for-4 out of the number six position in the lineup. The rest of Flagler's lineup was 4-for-25, though one of those hits was Miller's two-run go-ahead single in the eighth inning.
- Florida Southern also had 10 hits, with Flodman, Trana, and Wilson collecting two apiece. Flodman and Trana also walked once.
- Kyra Gipson (2-0) was the winning pitcher and threw 138 pitches in a complete game effort that saw her give up just two runs on 10 hits with no strikeouts and four walks.
- Gault took the loss in relief after pitching the final 2.2 innings and giving up four runs on three hits, walking one. Ehlers went the first 5.1 innings, and allowed two runs on seven hits with one strikeout and three walks.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- Florida Southern again took a 2-0 lead in game two, this time in the first inning. Those runs scored on consecutive doubles by Flodman and Trana following a one-out walk by Sexton.
- Ehlers retired the first seven Flagler batters before Jaclyn Mijuskovic reached on an error in the top of the third. She later scored on a double by Evans, bringing the Saints within 2-1, but Ehlers kept it that way by fielding two ground balls in the pitcher's circle for the second and third outs of the inning.
- The Saints put together another scoring threat in the top of the fifth with singles by Evans and Natalie Murphy, temporarily knocking Ehlers out of the game. Gault relieved her for the second time in the doubleheader, and though Morgan Murphy loaded the bases with an infield single, the Saints were unable to score.
- Flagler did tie the game in the top of the seventh, however. Evans' single, her third hit of the game and sixth of the night gave Flagler the chance it needed, and Morgan immediately followed with the game-tying double.
- After Sexton turned a double play for Florida Southern to end the top of the eighth inning, Conner drew the leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth that turned into the winning run on Deuberry's bunt.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME TWO:
- Ehlers, who is now 2-0, picked up the win by coming into the game following Morgan's tying double with one out in the top of the seventh. She got two fly balls to center to keep Morgan at center, and with the aid of Sexton's double play in the eighth, kept Flagler from scoring again. Her combined pitching line in game two had her throw 6.1 innings, give up five hits, one run (unearned), and two walks. She did not have a strikeout.
- Relief pitcher Alayna Savaglio took the loss, falling to 1-2 after giving up one unearned run on just one hit in 3.1 innings. She struck out three and walked two. Katlyn McCue started, went the first four innings and into the fifth, giving up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
- Evans had three of Flagler's eight hits, making her 6-for-9 in the doubleheader. She had been 0-for-11 entering the night but was All-Peach Belt Conference in 2018.
- Dewith and Higgins each had two hits for Florida Southern, and Dewith has hit safely in each of her first four college games since winning the starting job in centerfield. Higgins had three hits and a walk in the two games Wednesday.
UP NEXT: Florida Southern opens a three-game Sunshine State Conference series with Nova Southeastern at home on Friday, February 15 with a single game at 6 p.m.