April 3, 2005
Chapel Hill, N.C. - A 5-4 victory over Liberty and a 3-0 loss to North Carolina gave the Florida Atlantic University softball team (24-26, 4-2 A-Sun) a split in the only day of the rain-shortened Tar Heel Classic on Sunday. In the game one win, senior Jessica Braggins hit a grand slam and sophomore Ashley Greene allowed only one run in six innings of work.
In the victory over Liberty, the Owls found themselves in an early hole as starter Tara Grady allowed three runs on five hits in only one inning of work. The sophomore was quickly relieved of her duties after giving up a lead-off double in the second and was replaced by fellow sophomore Greene.
The three-run deficit for the Owls lasted only until the bottom of the third. With one out, Jessica Sachs reached on a bunt single, the first of her two on the day, and was then followed onto the bases by Christina Thompson and Pam Mazzarella, who both walked. Braggins then quickly cleared the bases with a home run over the right field wall, the first grand slam of the year for FAU. An RBI single by Lauren Crandall scored Danielle Arriaga to make it a 5-3 game before the inning was over.
Things remained that way until the top of the sixth when Liberty cut the Owl lead to 5-4 on a squeeze bunt. In the top of the seventh, Greene made sure the Flames wouldn't get any closer by retiring the side 1-2-3 to pick up her sixth win of the season.
In the game two loss, Carolina opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on a defensive blunder by the Owls. With a runner on second, Palm Beach Gardens native Casey Testa popped up a pitch from FAU starter Meghan Doonan to the right side of the infield. Second baseman Melissa Moore appeared to have a beat on the ball at first glance, but as the ball fell from the sky she glanced over to first baseman Mazzarella in search of some help. As both infielders were deciding what to do, baserunner Anna Evans rounded third and then crossed the plate as the ball dropped between Moore and Mazzarella.
The Tar Heels' second and third runs came in a more conventional way when pinch hitter Erica Ennis blasted a two-run homer off the foul pole in left field with two outs in the bottom of the third.
UNC starter Crystal Cox, the school's all-time career strike out leader, flummoxed the Owls all game, allowing only a third-inning double to Mazzarella while striking out 13 including the final three batters of the game.
The Owls continue their North Carolina road trip when they head to Buies Creek on Monday to resume Atlantic Sun Conference play against Campbell at 4 and 6 p.m.
NOTES: FAU coach Joan Joyce is now only three wins shy of 500 for her career...Braggins is now only three RBI short of her career-best single-season total of 33 that led the team in 2004...Doonan has given up nine of the 13 home runs allowed by Owl pitchers this season.