Candice Freel - Tournament MVP
March 6, 2005
BOCA RATON - The Florida Atlantic University softball team fell 3-1 to Bethune-Cookman in Sunday's championship game of the Doubletree Worth Classic, the second time this season that the Owls have finished runners-up in one of their own tournaments. Senior Candice Freel won the tournament's MVP award after allowing only one run in 19 and two-thirds innings. Earlier in the day, the Owls upset No. 22 Florida International 2-1.
In the loss to Bethune, a Jessica Braggins two-out RBI double to deep center field scored Pam Mazzarella to get the Owls off to a bright start in the first, but the bottom of the inning produced all the Wildcats (15-12) scoring and a quick end to the FAU lead
Owls starter Ashley Greene gave up back-to-back singles to the first two B-CC hitters before allowing the third batter to reach when she failed to get the ball out of her glove on a routine comebacker. Christina Trimble then singled to tie things up and the next batter Rachel Kilbert doubled to left center, scoring two. That was enough for FAU coach Joan Joyce, who immediately pulled Greene for staff ace Freel. Earlier in the day, Freel picked up the win in a complete game, three-hit effort against FIU.
Freel, who is beginning to look more like her old self after breaking her jaw in late October, stymied B-CC the rest of the way but could not get any offensive help as the Owls left two runners on in both the third and fourth innings. Junior Jessica Sachs led FAU in the loss, going 2-for-4, while Braggins increased her team-leading RBI total to 12.
Against FIU, who lost all four of their games in the tournament and will undoubtedly lose their place in the NFCA Top 25, the Owls struck first in the bottom of the second.
With runners on first and third, freshman Lauren Crandall attempted to steal second base and should have been thrown out, but shortstop Tracey DeLeon dropped the ball.attempting a high tag. As the ball rolled on the ground, Jenn Piazza crossed the plate without a play as DeLeon's throw home was off the mark.
Bethune drew even in the top of the third thanks to some creative base-running. With runners on the corners, Deomni Murray stole second and while FAU catcher Courtney Raney's throw was on its way, Brittany Witherow stole home ahead of a high throw from Jenna Lopez at short.
FAU regained their one-run lead in the bottom of the inning with a run of the unearned variety when Piazza drove in Christina Thompson with a two-out single up the middle. Thompson had earlier reached on another error by DeLeon, the third of the game for the freshman infielder making her first appearance at short.
Neither team threatened the rest of the way as starters Candice Freel and Amanda Nealer settled into their rhythms. Freel, who has given up only four earned runs in her last 27 innings, continued her stellar play on the mound, allowing only two hits to the Golden Panthers. Freel's ERA is now down below two for the second time this season
Piazza led the Owls offensively in the tournament, going 5-for-12 (.417) while driving in three runs. Jenna Lopez was the only other Owl hitter over 300 as the sophomore went 4-for-11 (.364).
The Owls head to Miami next weekend for the FIU Blue and Gold Coca-Classic. The five-team tournament pits FAU against hosts FIU, Manhattan, Quinnipiac, and Tulsa. Play runs Friday through Sunday with the Owls set to open against Tulsa on Friday at 2 p.m. Live stats from all games will be available via www.fiusports.com.
Bethune-Cookman 7, UMass 6
Florida Atlantic 2, No. 22 Florida International 1
UMass 3, No. 22 Florida International 2 (consolation)
Bethune-Cookman 3, Florida Atlantic 1 (championship)