Candice Freel threw a no-hitter in game one and struck out a career-high 20.
May 5, 2004
BOCA RATON, FL - In a night filled with drama, Florida Atlantic University needed just two runs to sweep a crucial Atlantic Sun Conference doubleheader with UCF. Candice Freel had a career night with an 11-inning no-hitter to go along with a career-high 20 strikeouts as FAU took game one, 1-0. In the nightcap, which would decide the A-Sun regular season champion, FAU scored with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to win 1-0.
FAU entered the night needing to sweep UCF to secure its sixth straight regular season title. The Owls will now be the no. 1 seed at next week's A-Sun Championship, a tournament they have won a record seven straight years.
In game one, Lauren Evans drove in the game-winner on a fielder's choice in the 11th. Jessica Sachs was placed on second to start the inning and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Callie Piper. Evans then hit a grounder to short, and Sachs beat the throw home to score the winning run.
The game, however, belonged to Freel. The junior from Corvallis, OR, allowed just three walks the entire game. She faced 36 batters and had at least one strikeout in each inning. She had at least two strikeouts in seven innings and struck out the side in the second and fifth. Freel improved to 24-7 on the year and has now thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings.
Freel was also able to pitch through the International Tiebreaker as UCF placed runners at second to begin the 10th and 11th but failed to score. In the 10th, Freel struck out the nation's leading hitter, Stephanie Best, for the third time and forced a pair of grounders to get out of the inning. With runners at first in the third and one out in the 11th, Freel secured her final two strikeouts to retire the side.
Jessica Braggins singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to drive in the only run of the second game. Amanda Morin (18-7) picked up the shutout. The junior scattered four hits and struck out nine with one walk. She pitched out of a second and third situation with one out in the fourth with a groundout and a strikeout.
At the plate, the Owls had eight hits, including three in the seventh. Ginny Matthews led off with a single up the middle. With one out, Sachs singled to left to put runners on first and second. After a groundout advanced runners to second and third, Pam Mazzarella drew a walk to bring Braggins to the plate. The junior pulled a 2-2 pitch through the left side to drive in Jenna Lopez with the winning run.
Mazzarella went 4-for-6 on the night while Mathews was 3-for-6. The Owls combined to outhit UCF, 12-4.
The sweep finalizes the schedule for the A-Sun Championship May 13-15 at FAU Field. The Owls will face no. 6 Gardner-Webb May 13 at 1:00pm. Also in first round action, no. 2 UCF takes on no. 5 Mercer while no. 3 Troy State plays no. 4 Stetson. Tickets are available by calling 866-FAU-OWLS. Fans can also log on to www.fausports.com to follow all games with live scoring.