April 26, 2003
ORLANDO, FL -- Heading into Saturday, Florida Atlantic University held a one game lead over the University of Central Florida for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference with four games remaining in the regular season. The two teams squared off in a doubleheader in Orlando, FL, which would help go a long way in determining which team would have an inside track to the A-Sun regular season title. Despite falling behind in the first inning of each game, FAU came from behind to win both games by a score of 4-1.
The wins improve FAU to 35-25 overall and 16-4 in the A-Sun as FAU extended its lead over the Golden Knights to three games.
In the first game, UCF (34-29, 13-7 A-Sun) took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Jen Whitley led off with a single and came around to score on a single by Stephanie Best.
FAU managed just one base runner in the first two innings before putting together its first threat in the third. Freel led of with a double, but the Lady Owls were unable to capitalize after a pop-up, a sacrifice, and a strike out to end the inning. In the fourth, FAU put two runners on with two outs but was shut down, again, by a strike out to end the inning.
The fifth inning proved fruitful for FAU as it pushed across two runs. Amy Bellisari reached on a throwing error while sacrificing which put runners at the corners with no outs. Freel then scored on a fielder's choice to tie the game at 1-1. With one out, Matthews singled to score Jessica Sachs to put FAU up 2-1.
In the sixth, Braggins led off with a double. Michelle Shirah came in as a pinch-runner and came around to score on a sacrifice foul fly by Freel to make it 3-1.
Meanwhile, Freel was sensational in the circle. After allowing a first inning run, she shut down the Golden Knights the rest of the way. Despite allowing at least one base runner in all but two innings, Freel did a masterful job of pitching out of trouble.
In the second through the fourth innings, she scattered just two walks. In the fifth, with FAU owning its first lead of the game, Freel allowed a lead-off double but put together a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around a fly out to retire the side. In the sixth, Freel duplicated the effort after another lead-off double. However, she struck out two more Golden Knights and was helped by a runner caught stealing.
FAU made it 4-1 in the seventh on a lead-off homer by Matthews. Matthews finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs while Freel went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Freel (16-11) also picked up the win, allowing one run on five hits with 10 strikeouts and three walks.
In game two, Stephanie Best hit a two-out, first inning homer in the first to put the Golden Knights on top, 1-0.
In the second and fourth innings, the Lady Owls squandered chances with runners in scoring position. FAU stranded runners at second and third in the second and left the bases loaded in the fourth.
The Lady Owls didn't let it happen a third time as Braggins had a run-scoring single with two outs in the sixth to score Jamie Melton and tie the game at 1-1.
In the seventh, Shirah led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Bellisari. Sachs followed with a single through the middle to score Shirah and give the Lady Owls a 2-1 lead. Matthews then doubled to score Sachs and make it 3-1. Mazzarella then grounded out to score Matthews with the fourth run.
Amanda Morin (17-11) extended her winning streak to nine games. She allowed one run on four hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Morin has now pitched five straight games without allowing a walk.
Florida Atlantic concludes its regular season Sunday afternoon with a 1:00pm doubleheader with Jacksonville State at FAU Field. The Lady Owls need just one win to clinch a fifth consecutive top seed in the A-Sun Tournament scheduled May 8-10 in Troy, AL.