ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Playing for the first time this season after missing the first month due to injury, Jenna Weldon made her first hit count for a win. Coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter in extra innings, Weldon delivered an RBI single to give the Moccasins the lead, and Aubrey Ehlers pitched six scoreless innings of relief to give Florida Southern a 4-2 victory over Eckerd in the finale of their three-game series.
In game one Friday night, the Moccasins trailed 4-0 with Eckerd's Nikole Van Gennep taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Celia Higgins put Florida Southern (7-8, 3-6 Sunshine State Conference) on the board and broke up the no-hit bid at the same time with an RBI single, and Maddi Conner hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh, but Van Gennep held on to give Eckerd (7-11, 3-6) a 4-3 win.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- Eckerd struck for two runs in the bottom of the second and two more in the bottom of the third to take a 4-0 lead. The second-inning runs came on a double by Kayelee Newstrom that was the only hit of the inning following a hit batter and a fielder's choice on a bunt that resulted in a late throw to second. Van Gennep provided the Tritons with their two runs in the third by blasting a pitch over the fence in straightaway center for a two-run homer, her fourth of the season.
- Following the home run by Van Gennep, Florida Southern pitcher Kelli Gault retired nine of the next 10 Eckerd batters, struck out the side in the fourth inning, and kept the score 4-0 going into the sixth. Kristen Beacham took over at that point in the pitcher's circle and set the Tritons down in order, giving the Moccasin pitchers nine straight outs to end the game.
- The Moccasins broke up the shutout and a no-hit bid by Van Gennep with a run in the top of the sixth. Makayla Deuberry walked to lead off the inning, took second on a ground out by Jadin Dewith, and came home on Higgins' two-out single. The Mocs did even more damage in the top of the seventh when Jessica Trana drew a leadoff walk and Conner homered to left to bring them within 4-3. Samantha Prosser followed with another shot into right center, but right fielder Hannah Famino made the catch and Van Gennep got the final two outs to hold for the win.
- Van Gennep earned her second win of the series to improve to 5-6 by giving up just two hits, though the Moccasins turned them into three runs. She struck out five and walked two. Gault fell to 1-5 after giving up four runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME ONE:
- The first game of Friday night's doubleheader marked the second time this year already the Moccasins have been involved in a game where there were only five hits. The Mocs out-hit Tampa 3-2 in the first game of that series.
- Van Gennep had gone 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA against the Moccasins as a freshman but went 0-5 as a sophomore and junior before picking up two wins in this year's series. As a hitter Van Gennep's home run in the third inning gave her a share of the SSC lead with Rollins' Lindsay Gehring.
- Conner's home run was the first of her career. It was the second hit by the Moccasins this year and freshmen have hit both of them. Higgins had the first, an inside-the-park home run against Nova Southeastern.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- Florida Southern started game two the same way it ended game one, putting two runs on the board in the top of the first inning. Dewith and Higgins opened the game with back-to-back singles and Trana drove the first one home with a double into the leftfield corner. An RBI ground out by Conner made it 2-0.
- Eckerd got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the first inning when a leadoff walk by Kaylin Kramer and two ground outs put a runner at third for Skylar Redish, who delivered an RBI single. One inning later, the Tritons tied the game on another RBI single, this one coming from Famiano.
- Neither team could score over the next five innings, the Moccasins off Madison Saltzman or the Tritons off Aubrey Ehlers, who entered in relief of Beacham to start the bottom of the third. The Mocs, however, left the bases loaded in the fourth following a hit batter, walk, and error; and they left a pair of runner on base in the sixth after Deuberry walked and Dewith singled. That inning ended when Higgins hit a rope into right field that was caught on the run by Famiano.
- Alex Mace started the top of the eighth inning for Florida Southern with an infield single, forcing a pitching change that saw Van Gennep replace Saltzman. Deuberry then walked for the second time in the game, pushing Mace into scoring position for Weldon, who singled up the middle to put the Mocs ahead 3-2. Deuberry took third on the play and scored on a ground out by Dewith.
- In her first five innings Friday night, Ehlers had only two Tritons reach base against her, but they made the game interesting in the bottom of the eighth with singles by Van Gennep and Kassy Torres. With runners at first and second, Newstrom hit a long fly ball to right center, but Dewith made the catch on the warning track for the final out.
- That made a winner of Ehlers, who gave up only four hits, all singles, with no walks or strikeouts in 6.0 scoreless innings of relief. She's now 6-3 on the season. Saltzman, who was making her first start as a pitcher this year, is now 0-1 after giving up three runs on five hits with one strikeout and four walks. The final run was charged to Van Gennep.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME TWO:
- Florida Southern has already played four extra-inning games this season. No other SSC team has played more than two. The Moccasins are 3-1 in those games, all of them going eight innings.
- Florida Southern and Eckerd have played six extra-inning games against each other in the last six years.
- Eckerd won the season series for only the third time against Florida Southern, and the Mocs still hold a 113-15 advantage in the all-time series.
- Dewith went 2-for-5 with an RBI, while Higgins, Trana, and Mace all had one hit and one walk. Deuberry did not have an official at-bat in the game, but reached in all four of her plate appearances, getting hit by a pitch in her first two and walking in her final two.
- Taylor Davis had two sacrifice bunts, handled six chances without an error in the field at second base, and tracked down two pop-ups down the right field line. She also scooped up a ground ball in the eighth inning and flipped it glove-hand to Deuberry at the bag for a force out at second.
- Van Gennep had two of Eckerd's seven hits in the game and three of 10 in the doubleheader.
Florida Southern returns home for a non-conference doubleheader Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against Tiffin (Ohio).