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FGCU Edges Liberty, 8-7, on Walk-Off Hit
A six-run third inning gave Liberty a 7-2 lead, but Florida Gulf Coast rallied for an 8-7, walk-off win over the Lady Flames on Sunday at FGCU Softball Complex.
With the win, the Eagles improve their record to 5-0 on the season, while Liberty went 0-5 at the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Invitational to open their year. FGCU scored eight runs on 15 hits, while Liberty recorded seven runs on four hits and benefitted from three Eagle errors.
Kelsey Carpenter went 4-for-4 with four runs scored for the host Eagles, while Chelsea Zgrabik and Kirsten Bembnowski both hit 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.
For Liberty, Kelby Allen batted 2-for-4, hitting a home run and scoring two runs. Holly Seiz singled and scored, and Marybeth Sciolino posted her first career hit. Michele Brown and Cortney Cooper drove in one run apiece.
Taylor Wade (2-0) of FGCU picked up the win after giving up one run and two hits in five innings of relief. Starter Jackie Owen yield six runs, three earned, on two hits in two innings of work.
Liberty's Annah Jo Brittingham (0-3) went the distance, allowing eight runs on 15 hits while striking out five.
The Lady Flames jumped ahead on Allen's solo homer with two outs in the top of the first inning. Seiz followed by doubling to left center, before a popout ended the frame.
The Eagles staged a two-out rally to tie the score during their first time at bat. Carpenter singled, and then Zgrabik laced an RBI double. Brittingham struck out Brittney Garabedian, stranding Zgrabik on second.
FGCU tacked on a run with back-to-back base hits to open the second. Ross hit a leadoff double, and then scored on a single by Dembnowski, making it 2-1, Eagles.
The Lady Flames stormed into the lead with a six-run third inning, taking advantage of several FGCU miscues. The inning began with a hit batter and two walks. Sciolino then scored on a passed ball, and Allen plated Zavodny with a fielder's choice grounder, making it 3-2. After a walk loaded the bases, Wade then came on in relief of Owen and got a strikeout. A walk and a pair of errors allowed four more Lady Flames to cross the plate.
The Eagles chipped away at the deficit in the third, as Carpenter singled, and Zgrabik hit a two-run blast to right center, trimming the margin to 7-4.
Liberty threatened to score during the fourth, as Allen singled and an error put runners on first and second with one out. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Brown lined out to second to end the threat.
The hosts tallied one run in the bottom of the fifth. Carpenter and Hannah Horwath singled, and then Carpenter scored on a double-steal play with two outs. Brittingham got Alexis Ross to foul out, ending the inning as Liberty led, 7-5.
Wade pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning, and Bembnowski hit a leadoff homer to begin FGCU's at bat. Jeanie Verderese then singled, but three consecutive outs kept Liberty in the lead, 7-6, heading into the seventh.
A hitless Liberty seventh brought FGCU to bat for the final time. Lawrence made a great diving catch for the first out, robbing Makensie McAvoy of a hit. Carpenter and Zgrabik followed with consecutive singles. Brittingham struck out Emily Lanier, and Ross tied the game with an RBI liner to center. Bembnowski then hit a walk-off single, giving the Eagles the 8-7 win.
Liberty will next compete in a tournament at UNCW, beginning with a game on Saturday at 2 p.m. against UMBC. The Lady Flames will also face Norfolk State and the host UNCW Seahawks while in Wilmington, N.C.