May 9, 2003
TROY, AL -- For only the second time since 1996, Florida Atlantic University (39-26) suffered a loss at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. On Friday, the Lady Owls were defeated by Central Florida, 3-2, in eight innings. The loss was FAU's first in the double-elimination tournament. The Lady Owls will next face the winner of Friday's Mercer-Jacksonville State game for the right to play in Saturday's championship game.
UCF (37-29) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out, two-run double by Dottie Cupp. The Golden Knights held that advantage until FAU broke through in the fourth.
With one out, Jenn Piazza homered for the second time in as many days to pull the Lady Owls to within 2-1. Jessica Braggins followed with a double. Jaime Melton came on as a pinch-runner and advanced to second with two outs on a walk by Candice Freel. Callie Piper then singled up the middle to score Melton and tie the game at 2-2.
After allowing five base runners in the first two innings, Freel settled in to retire 16 of the next 19 Golden Knights she faced before the fateful eighth inning. On the other side, Cupp retired 12 of the last 15 Lady Owls she faced. However, FAU still had its chances. In the sixth, Ebony Gray tripled with two outs. In the seventh, Piper led off with a single, and Braggins doubled with two outs in the eighth.
For UCF, Stephanie Best, the A-Sun Player-of-the-Year, led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Best advanced to third on a groundout by Cupp and came home to score on a two-out single up the middle by Jania Shinhoster. That gave UCF the 3-2 win.
Freel (18-12) allowed three runs on eight hits. Seven of the eight were singles. She struck out two and walked two. Braggins finished 2-for-4 with two doubles. Piper also had two hits. Piazza's homer was her team-leading seventh of the season.
Cupp (18-12) allowed two runs on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The loss by FAU against UCF was just its sixth all-time at the A-Sun Tournament. The Lady Owls hold a 30-6 record since 1995.
Florida Atlantic awaits the winner of the Mercer-JSU game that began at 3:30pm CT. The winner of that game will advance to Saturday needing to defeat UCF twice for the championship. FAU is seeking its seventh consecutive A-Sun championship.
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