March 1, 2002
MIAMI, FL - Florida Atlantic University's softball team, ranked 20th in the latest poll, captured the first two games of the Florida International University Golden Panther Invitational with a 5-0 victory over the University of Connecticut and a 10-2 victory over Wichita State University, in a game that was called after five, under the mercy rule.
UCON's Barb Cook opened the first game with a single to left. FAU settled in to retire the next 17 batters before Cook dribbled the Huskie's only other hit in the top of the sixth. In all, FAU starter Nikki Myers pitched a complete game, retired eight by strikeouts and earned her sixth shutout of the season to improve to 9-2.
FAU scored three in the bottom of the third and two in the fourth for the game's final. Ginny Matthews hit a one out double to center in the third. Capitalizing on miscues, a single by Ninya Ybarra, a walk by Myers and a two-out double to left center by Pam Mazzarella, FAU scored three, all earned. Christina Thompson started the rally in the fourth with a one-out single. Ybarra took first on an error and both were driven in by Heather Wright's single to center.
With the loss, Connecticut falls to 1-6 on the season. Next up for FAU was Wichita State, which FAU spotted two runs in the bottom of the second behind a pass ball, an ugly, but effective single just over the first base, a wild pitch and a single to center.
Wichita would keep FAU off the scoreboard until the top of the fourth. Amy Bellisari lead off you with a single. Two batters latter Michelle Shirah singled advanced on an errand throw which allowed one run to score and placed Shirah on second. Ginny Matthews single and picked up two RBIs. Matthews was later singled in by Heather Wright.
The top of the fifth the hitting continued with Myers leading off with a double. Pam Mazzarella followed with a single. Pitcher Candice Freel hit a one-out single to score Mazzarella scored. With two outs and runners on second and third senior Ninya Ybarra hit a three-run homer over the leftfield fence for the game finale.
Freel picked up her seventh victory of the season and her fifth consecutive victory. The freshman retired one by a strikeout and walked two. In all, she faced 20 batters. The team improved to 16-3 overall one game shy of the program's 17-3 start in 1998.
FAU will next face Auburn (11 am) and a ranked Oklahoma (1 pm) in the FIU Golden Panther Invitational on Saturday. The tournament's championship is scheduled for Sunday.