May 16, 2003
GAINESVILLE, FL -- For the second time in two days, Florida Atlantic University faced elimination at the NCAA Regional in Gainesville, FL. On Friday, FAU (44-27) promptly defeated host Florida, 2-1 in nine innings, to eliminate the Gators and advanced to day three of the regional for the first time since 1999. It was the second straight game FAU won at the regional in extra innings. Callie Piper drove in the winning run with no outs in the ninth while Amanda Morin picked up her 15th straight victory.
FAU will next face Oregon State Saturday at noon in yet another elimination game. OSU eliminated South Florida Friday night, 8-0, to advance in the losers' bracket. FAU is the only Florida school remaining in the eight-team regional as Bethune-Cookman, Florida State, Florida, and USF have all been eliminated.
Both teams scored a run in the first, and the game then was scoreless into the ninth. Florida (41-25) struck first in the top of the first when Jenny Gladding had a two-out triple and came home to score on Lindsey Cameron's single.
Scoring would be at a premium the rest of the way. Morin allowed just one hit in the final eight innings. In all, she struck out two and walked two while allowing three hits. She improved to 23-11 on the year.
Meanwhile, FAU batters were equally unsuccessful in getting anything going against UF's Amanda Moore. Sachs led off the third with a double but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. FAU managed just two more singles until the eighth. That's when Michelle Shirah led off with an infield single. With two outs, and Sachs at third, Mazzarella drew a walk and Jenn Piazza fouled out to end the threat.
In the ninth, Morin retired the heart of the Florida lineup in order to set up FAU's dramatic half of the inning. Jessica Braggins, who was hitless in 11 previous at-bats, doubled and was replaced by Jaime Melton. Ebony Gray was intentionally walked which brought Piper to the plate.
The junior catcher promptly lined a singled into right center, and Melton beat the throw home to score the winning run.
"In that situation, the one player I want at bat is Callie," said FAU head coach Joan Joyce. "One of the things she does well is put the ball in play, and that's what we needed most at that time."
The win followed a dramatic 2-1 victory Thursday night in 11 innings against Bethune-Cookman. FAU opened the regional with a 7-3 loss to South Florida Thursday morning after the Bulls scored six runs in the first inning.
"I think the big first inning South Florida put up against us on Thursday really has helped us over the past two games," said Joyce. "That game told our players this regional is going to be tough. They haven't laid back and have really fought hard."
The win was FAU's third straight against the Gators, evening the series at 3-3. FAU last faced Florida in a 3-0 victory May 17, 2001 at the NCAA Regional in Tallahassee.
If FAU is to advance to its first Women's College World Series, it will have to win two games on Saturday and two games on Sunday.
Other action on Friday included Oklahoma defeating South Florida, 8-0. Oregon State eliminated Florida State, 2-1. Also, Texas-Arlington defeated Florida, 2-0.