May 17, 2003
GAINESVILLE, FL -- Florida Atlantic University was defeated by Oregon State University, 7-3, Saturday afternoon in an elimination game at the NCAA Regional in Gainesville, FL. The loss ends FAU's season with a 44-28 record. The Lady Owls entered the game having won two games facing elimination.
Oregon State (35-30) began the scoring in the second inning when Vanessa Iapala singled with one out. With two outs and Iapala at second, Steph Adams homered to center to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead. In the third, Brynnen Guthrie was hit by a pitch with two outs and came around to score when Adrienne Alo doubled to center. That gave OSU a 3-0 cushion.
FAU finally broke through in the fifth. Candice Freel and Callie Piper started the rally with singles. With one out and runners at second and third, Jessica Sachs reached on an error to load the bases. After Ginny Matthews hit into a force play at home, Pam Mazzarella doubled to right to score Jaime Melton and Sachs. That made it 3-2 Oregon State.
The Beavers came right back in the sixth to score three more times. Lisa Allen tripled with two outs and two on and came around to score on the same play after a throwing error. That gave Oregon State a 6-2 lead heading to the bottom of the sixth.
FAU, however, came right back and appeared primed to get right back into the game. Amy Klever came in to relive starter Monica Hoffman and began the inning hitting Jessica Braggins with a pitch. Christina Thompson came on as a pinch-runner and advanced to third when Ebony Gray reached on an error by Brynnen Guthrie and second. Freel then singled to left to score Thompson and pull FAU to within 6-3. Piper followed with a single to load the bases with still no outs. Hoffman then returned to the circle and struck out Amy Bellisari for the first out. Sachs hit into a force play at home and Matthews grounded out to end the threat.
Oregon State added another run in the seventh on a solo homer by Guthrie to account for the game's final run.
"This team fought hard the entire regional," said FAU head coach Joan Joyce. "Even today, we trailed by three in the fifth and came back to within one. We just couldn't come up with the big hit, especially in the fifth and sixth innings."
FAU left eight runners on base including five in the two innings Joyce was referring to.
Freel (19-14) suffered the loss, allowing seven runs, six earned, on nine hits. She struck out six and did not surrender a walk. The sophomore from Corvallis, OR, was facing her hometown school for the first time.
Hoffman (25-14) picked up the win. She allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and struck out six with one walk.
The loss ends a season in which Florida Atlantic had one of its youngest teams in recent memory. Despite a grueling early-season schedule and several injuries to key players, the Lady Owls won the regular season Atlantic Sun Conference title and then, facing elimination three times, won their seventh consecutive A-Sun Tournament championship.
FAU has advanced to the past five NCAA Tournaments and made it to the third day for the first time since its first trip in 1999. That included extra-inning victories against Bethune-Cookman and Florida which helped the Lady Owls avoid elimination. The Lady Owls lose three seniors from this year's team. They include Alanna Sachs, Michelle Shirah, and Melton.