March 12, 2005
Miami, Fla. - Redshirt freshman Tara Grady's first collegiate win and a game-winning steal home by sophomore Jenna Lopez helped the Florida Atlantic University softball team overcome eight errors in their two victories Saturday at the Blue and Gold Coca-Cola Classic hosted by FIU. Grady threw a complete-game, four-hit shutout in a 7-0 win over Quinnipiac while Lopez's run gave the Owls (12-19) a 9-8 victory in eight innings over Manhattan. The Owls have now won six of eight and will be the number one seed heading into tomorrow's final day of tournament play.
In the win over Quinnipiac, the Owls jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead when junior Danielle Arriaga, making her first start at shortstop in almost a month, knocked in Jessica Sachs and Melissa Moore with a no-out single through the right side.
Grady walked the Bobcats' Alyssa Mansolf to load the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth, but got away unscathed when Jessica Sachs snagged a sharp grounder and made the force play at third to end the threat.
The Owls completed the scoring in the sixth when Sachs launched her second homer of the year, a two-run shot over the left-center field wall.
Against the Jaspers it was a completely different first inning for the Owls than in the previous game as FAU starter Candice Freel walked three batters with two outs before allowing a grand slam home run to shortstop Kiera Fox.
The Owls pegged the score back to 4-1 in the bottom of the first on Arriaga's second RBI single of the day and then shrunk the deficit to one in the second inning when Jenna Lopez's two-run double down the right field line just stayed on the fair side of the bag.
Manhattan quickly regained their four-run advantage in the top of the third, scoring three times to knock Freel out of the game.
The run-fest took a two-inning break before the Owls cut the Jasper lead to two in the bottom of the fifth. Braggins drove in her seventh run of the tournament and Christina Thompson scored on a Pam Mazzarella ground out to short to make it a 7-5 game.
After being down the entire game, FAU finally tied things up in the bottom of the sixth. Freel re-entered to lead off the inning and responded with a single to center. Jenna Lopez then tripled to score Freel before scoring herself on a Thompson RBI single. With two on and two out, Braggins almost gave FAU the lead with a hit off the first-base bag, but the ball bounced straight up into the air and back into first baseman Erica Kostik's glove for the easy unassisted put-out.
Things remained tied through seven innings and so the international tiebreaker rule went into effect. The Jaspers scored one run in the top of the eighth, but could have added a couple more if it weren't for the efforts of reliever Meghan Doonan. With runners on the corners and no outs, Doonan struck out the side to keep the deficit at one.
To begin the bottom of the eighth, pinch runner Jennifer Cavanaugh was placed on second as per the tiebreaker rule. First batter Jenna Lopez then stepped up and smacked her second triple of the game, tying things at 8-8. After Sachs had lined out to third, Thompson stepped up with a chance to win the game with a base hit. Instead, a squeeze bunt was called for but the Manhattan pitcher Jill Medea pitched out and Lopez was caught in no-man's land in a run-down.
Luckily for the Owls, Fox, who was 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored on the day, dropped the ball while covering third, allowing Lopez to slide home safely to give the Owls the come-from-behind victory.
FAU will play on Sunday at 11 a.m. against the winner of the 9 a.m. game between the fourth and fifth seeds. If they win that game, the Owls will play in the championship game at 3 p.m. against the winner of the 1 p.m. game between the second and third seeds. Live stats from all games will be available on www.fiusports.com.
NOTES: The 17 total runs in the Manhattan game is the most scored in an FAU game since the Owls defeated Mercer 12-7 on April 12, 2003...with her two triples in the Manhattan game, Jenna Lopez tied a team record...Arriaga was 5-for-8 with three RBI on Saturday...Braggins is 7-for-13 with a home run and seven RBI in the tournament.