LAKELAND, FL – Florida Southern's senior catcher Zierra Flodman could do no wrong in the final home game of her career Friday by going 4-for-4 and even throwing out two runners attempting to steal on the same play at one point. However, 5th-ranked Florida Tech tied the game twice after falling behind, and eventually won it on an RBI triple by Melinda Rule in the top of the seventh for a 3-2 victory over the Moccasins.
Flodman's four-hit game was the first by a Moccasin this year, though it was her third with at least three. She singled in the second, third, and fifth innings before giving Florida Southern a chance to tie with another single with two out in the bottom of the seventh. Jordan Lawlis, got the final out, however, to finish the game with four scoreless innings of relief for Florida Tech to keep the Panthers (36-10, 20-7) tied for first in the SSC standings with one series remaining.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- The Moccasins (15-27, 7-23) took a 1-0 lead after Flodman led off the bottom of the second inning with a single. Jenna Weldon's one-out single moved her to second before Meghan Sexton doubled to right center to bring in the run. The Panthers though came right back to tie the score in the top of the third after Mikayla Wessel reached on an infield hit and came home on a one-out single by Jaden Kline. Kline's hit put runners at the corners with one out, but Flodman erased them both with help from shortstop Makayla Deuberry. When the Panthers attempted a double steal, Flodman first threw out Kline at second before taking the return throw from Deuberry and putting the tag on Cheyenne Nelson trying to slide in with the go-ahead run.
- That play gave the Mocs a chance to re-claim the lead in the bottom of the third, which they did again with Flodman involved. A bunt single by Jadin Dewith and walk by Jessica Trana put two on with one out, and Flodman hit the ball sharply to Rule at third for another infield hit to load the bases. Weldon's single to left brought in Dewith for a 2-1 lead before Shanysse Emerenciana made an impressive play at short to get a force out at third base for the final out of the inning on what could have been another-run scoring hit by Sexton.
- Once again, Florida Tech came back right away to tie the game, this time when Vanessa Rubio led off the top of the fourth with her second home run of the season. It would be the last run for either team until Tori Szrom led off the top of the seventh with a single and pinch-runner Katrina Hand came around to score on Rule's triple to right center.
- That made a winner of Lawlis, who had pitched a complete game in the second half of Thursday night's doubleheader, for the second time in the series. She gave up four hits in 4.0 innings in relief of Melanie Murphy with three strikeouts and no walks to improve to 7-2. Murphy had allowed two runs on six hits with one strikeout and one walk before leaving the game.
- The Panthers scored their three runs on nine hits off Aubrey Ehlers and Kelli Gault, who combined for five strikeouts and no walks. Ehlers pitched the first four innings before Gault pitched the next 2.2 innings. Ehlers re-entered in the top of the seventh for the final out.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Florida Southern's last four-hit game was by Shannon Bell last April 14 in a game at Florida Tech. It's now four times in the last six years a Moccasin has had a four-hit game against the Panthers with Christie Bailey doing it in 2014, and Leah Pemberton in 2015.
- The home run hit by Rubio was the only one this season hit by an opposing player at Chris Bellotto Field. Rule's triple was the 15th hit by either the visiting or home team at the stadium this year, which is the most of any field in the Sunshine State Conference.
- This year marked the second year in a row Florida Southern has played a national top-five team in its final home game of the season. Last year the Moccasins beat No. 4 Palm Beach Atlantic on senior day.
- Annemarie Tracey made her second straight start in leftfield, went 1-for-3 and made a sliding catch in short left that nearly turned into a double play in the top of the seventh inning.
- Weldon went 5-for-8 with a walk in the series, and Dewith and Flodman were each 5-for-10. All three, along with Maddi Conner, are hitting .300 or better in the Moccasins' nine games this month.
- Friday's game, played under the threat of an incoming line of storms, was the final home appearance for Florida Southern's six seniors, Ehlers, Gault, Flodman, Trana, Deuberry, and Tracey.
Florida Southern ends the season next Thursday, April 25, with a doubleheader in Tallahassee against top-ranked West Florida. Those games at Tallahassee Community College begin at 1 p.m.