FGCU earns program's first NCAA win
Two solo home runs boost Eagles past fifth-seeded Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In game number 60 of the season, Florida Gulf Coast earned an upset victory against fifth-seeded Florida, thanks to a pair of solo home runs from sophomores Kirsten Bembnowski and Emily Lanier as the Eagles defeated the Gators 2-1 at the Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
“It was an impressive victory for our entire team,” head coach Dave Deiros said. “We did a nice job with our pitching and with our defense and we came up with some timely hitting in some big spots. We needed to make sure that we kept them fighting back and fighting desperate. I think in the last inning, they were pressing a little bit and they swung at a lot of first pitches. I’m really proud of our kids for doing a good job today."
The Eagles are now 38-22 on the season and have won seven in a row, while the fifth-seeded Gators fall to 46-12. With the win, FGCU advances to the winner’s bracket game against USF on Saturday. Florida will play UCF in the loser’s bracket game on Saturday. The victory marks the first NCAA tournament win for any program at FGCU and it is the first time the FGCU has defeated Florida in school history.
“We’re jumping from the University of Florida, the No. 6 team in the country, to the University of South Florida," Deiros said. “USF is a very disciplined and a very well taught team. We have to come out and play well. This is the first NCAA tournament win for any FGCU program, but I don’t want to set this as our final piece. We’ve got more work to do and we’ve got some more firsts to put on our mantle piece and that’s what we’re going to try and accomplish.”
The A-Sun Tournament MVP and A-Sun Pitcher of the Year freshman Shelby Morgan picked up her 23rd win of the season, throwing a complete game allowing just one earned run on five hits with four strikeouts. Morgan finished the win with a three-pitch three out bottom of the seventh to seal the victory for the Eagles.
Lanier went 2-for-3 in the game with a solo home run and a double to right center, while Bembnowski had a 1-for-2 effort with a solo home run.
FGCU struck first after Bembnowski blasted a one-out solo home run to left field, her seventh of the season, to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Florida answered in the bottom of the third as Lauren Haeger drove a two-out hit up the middle to even the score at 1-1. Briana Little started the inning with a base hit, followed by a strikeout from Katie Medina for the first out. Morgan battled and struck out Michelle Moultrie on a 3-2 pitch looking for out number two. Jess Damico kept the inning alive with an infield hit to put runners on first and third.
In the top of the sixth, the Green and Blue regained the lead for good with a one-out solo home run from Lanier, her sixth of the year, to give FGCU a 2-1 lead.